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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, October 2008 - Column 1


    The Knesset has a special Dead Sea Caucus headed by MK Estherina Troutman (the ‘Israel - Our Home' party) designed to come to grips with the shrinking size of the Dead Sea which is receding at the rate of a meter a year. At a special Dead Sea Day in parliament designed to raise awareness of the looming ecological problem, a host of ‘alternatives' for saving the Dead Sea were raised.
    The solutions not only included digging the Med-Dead Sea canal or the Red-Dead Sea canal or siphoning off less water so some of the Jordan would actually empty rather than trickle into the Dead Sea. In all seriousness it was suggested Israel could fill the Dead Sea by importing water from Turkey...paramount to trying to fill a Jacuzzi with a teaspoon.



    Periodically the IDF announces an ‘amnesty' for inhabitants to anonymously turn in gear that belongs to the army to the nearest police station by a certain date - no questions asked. Among the 5 M NIS (($1.3 M) worth of ‘mislaid' equipment and mementos that turned up when Israelis dug into the back of their closets were not just 658,980 bullets and 10,411 uniforms.
    There were not only 66 Kalashnikovs, 23 M-16s and other assorted assault rifles and even two regiment machineguns, but also 18 old tank parts, 33 land mines, a 0.5 caliber heavy machinegun and an unidentified piece of equipment ‘lifted' from an IDF helicopter valued at 50,000 NIS ($13,285)...



    Penina Rosenblum - who climbed her way from humble beginnings on the margins of Petach Tikva to founding her own multimillion dollar cosmetics empire, sought to reinvent herself in 1999 as an aspiring politician. Far from deterred by the unsuccessful bid for election, she later ‘decorated' an unrealistically-low but prestigious place on the Likud's party list. But fear not: A fluke - the mass defection of Likud MKs to Kadima - catapulted Rosenblum into the Israeli parliament for a fleeting moment in December 2005. Her 16-week term (a good part when the House was recessed) hardly gave the green lawmaker time to learn the ropes or leave her mark, other than Rosenblum's signature (‘ha-ha-ha') laugh.
    According to protocol, ex-MK, Rosenblum was invited to the opening plenum session of the Knesset in October 2008 along with other former parliamentarians. When Opposition leader Bibi Natanyahu took the floor and his words were drowned out by Arab MKs, guess who came to the rescue...
    Without thinking, a floored Rosenblum joined the fracas from the visitor's gallery to ‘defend' the Opposition leader - generating peels of laughter from all corners that momentarily brought down the House. House chair MK Dalia Itzik went into such fits of laughter that for two full minutes she was speechless, unable to call the House to order.
    Perplexed but never at a loss for words, the platinum-blond ex-model ex-reporter and former actress and beauty queen retorted to reporters with typical aplomb: "After all they let us sit-in in the plenum, and if we're not allowed to speak they needed to update us. I didn't know I was doing something wrong" - undoubtedly leaving an indelible mark on parliament for years to come.



Was he hallucinating or was this for real?
    Shalom Dorani found himself staring at a mammoth yellow submarine that periodically appeared in the sky over his house in moshav Otzem not far from Ashkelon. The yellow blimp with a remote-control surveillance camera was not trained on nearby Gaza. Raised and lowered several times a week - day or night for several hours, right outside the gate to Dorani's walled compound - the air show was, in fact, a high sign from the local police department that they were not very happy with Dorani's performance. To be more specific, detectives considered Dorani a ‘very bad dude'. They not only suspected he was the head of an organized crime family, but also the person who two years earlier had tried to intimidate one of their own with two grenades lobbed into a detective's backyard.
    Evidence? They had none. But since the incident, the cops had closely followed Dorani's every move by a host of steps. But was the blimp going a step too far? Were police guilty of an unconventional form of ‘police harassment'? Did the aerial camera abridge Dorani's right to privacy? Or was this legitimate ‘power projection'?

Grilled by a police reporter about their motives and modus operandi, a Force spokesperson ‘took the Fifth' choosing to remain silent.



    El Salvador seeks to copy the business model of Israel's leading green non-profit - the tree-planting Jewish National Fund, for their own country. While El Salvador - for the most part, one large coffee plantation - hardly suffers from a lack of vegetation, the country's foreign minister and minister of environmental quality want to copy the way environmentally-friendly JNF projects operate - now how to plant trees necessarily, but how the JNF implants sensitivity for environmental issues among Israeli youth, and even more important- how the JNF is enthusiastically supported by world Jewry.
    The aim: Establish a stronger bond between El-Salvador and its own Latino ‘diaspora' community in America and encourage donations to the Old Country.



    Politics make strange bed-fellows, but some cases are real enigma: In the late 1980s, half-way to Tel-Aviv, a wanton Brazilian tourist stripped to the buff telling a bewildered El-Al stewards "I want Shamir*!" Upon landing, the passionate traveler was hospitalized for observation.
    Now a Canadian is apparently equally infatuated with Kadima party leader MK Tzippi Livni, sending Israel's undemonstrative Israeli minister of foreign affairs - who has her own special qualities but whose body language holds the sex appeal of a turnip - a diamond ring in a satin padded metal box via Federal Express.
    Did the sender need a padded cell? Not if one believes the cryptic message on personal stationary penned by Laurent Bélanger (accompanied by a picture of himself): "I'm aware of what I'm doing" - underscoring he was not a nut case. Was this a proposal that had nothing to do with the peace process? The minister, who is already married with two kids tactfully suggested the ring be diplomatically returned together with a note thanking Bélanger for his gift, hoping the admirer would get the message...whatever it was.


* referring to then presiding Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, hardly a sex symbol by any yardstick.


* Copyright© 2008 by Daniella Ashkenazy. All rights reserved worldwide. For limited usage, see FAQs. All stories are completely rewritten by Daniella Ashkenazy from news items gleaned from Yediot Aharonot, unless another news source is stated.