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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, September 2010 - Column 1


   It's no secret that among China's leading exports in a global economy is not only Chinese manufactured goods, it's Chinese people.
   Countless Chinese go abroad to work on huge infrastructure projects - 750,000 settling in Africa in the past decade alone. And, there are a growing number of Chinese traipsing across the globe as tourists - tripping across unfamiliar turf and causing a growing headache for their government.
   Who did the Chinese turn to for advice? Israel, of course.
   The Chinese - a nation of doting Only Child parents - were impressed by the way Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs goes the extra mile in coming to the rescue of countless Israeli nationals who have landed in trouble while traveling abroad, even acting as in loco parentis for anxiety-prone Jewish mothers and fathers with real or imagined worries about their offsprings' whereabouts or well-being.* The Chinese want to know the lengths to which the Israeli government goes to rescue individuals in distress and how it handles Israelis caught in the middle of a natural disaster, political upheaval or in trouble with the law.

* For a few truly loco cases, see July 2009 Column 2


   Remember the story of the old German geezers in an Australian old-age home who wanted their Galilee bell back? (See the June 2010 Column 2 in the archives) Apparently the story about the German Templers* finally rang a bell with another old geezer, this one an Israeli old-timer in his eighties. The 1948 war veteran suddenly recalled a pack of pictures he'd found in Yehudia near Ben-Gurion airport, after the Arab village fell into Jewish hands.
   The vintage photos he'd stashed away some 62 years ago documented an April 8-11, 1936 national jamboree of German Templer* youth who had gathered at the Templer village Waldheim* to found a branch of the Hitler Youth in Palestine - complete with huge, draped swastika flags, a flag-bearer in high polished black boots under a Hitler Jugend banner and rows of adolescents standing at attention.

* An apocalyptic German sect that founded five settlements in the Holy Land in the late 18th-early 19th century

* Today, the Jewish community Alonei Abba in the Jezreel Valley


   Jerusalem's light railroad - with trams strung out like pearls running on a street-level trolley track - will finally begin service in April 2011. If it wasn't enough that it has taken five years to lay 14.8 kilometers of track, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Transportation suddenly decided to railroad the railroad franchisers by requiring trams to stop at a quarter of the traffic lights along the way, not just boarding and alighting stops... The logic: one should not penalize express buses.
   Public anger led the two to backtrack, promising that the railroad would have right-of-way at all intersections, as in Europe. Of course, even at maximum speed, the capital's ‘rapid' transit system will still take 45 minutes to cross the city from Pisgat Zeev to Kiryat Yovel - about the same time it takes to traverse the distance between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.


   One of the latest strange ‘private member bills' submitted to the Knesset belongs to MK Marina Solodkin who introduced a bill that would prohibit publishing a national daily newspaper and giving it away free for more than one year... (Israel has a number of free mass-circulation papers, the biggest, Israel HaYom, launched in 2007.) The Russian-born MK from the Kadima party explained the ‘logic,' saying: "A newspaper is an ideological product, and it's too important to be distributed for free. Our objective is to defend Israeli democracy..." Solodkiin in feared ‘unfair competition' of free papers would undermine a free press.
   The House defeated the bill hands-down.


   Israel receives an assortment of military aid from the USA, but it's hard to figure out what liaison officers from both militaries were thinking when the U.S. Army offered - and the IDF accepted - a shipment of American army surplus fatigues.
   It wasn't just the words US Army blazoned across the breast pockets in English that were problematic. Israeli fatigues are solid olive drab, and the hand-me-downs turned out to be ‘desert camouflage' uniforms deployed in Iraq that happen to be lethally similar to the dappled commando duds worn by Palestinian terrorist outfits.
   After prohibiting their usage anywhere in the open, the IDF Quartermaster sought a ‘safe' place to delicately dispose of the dangerous duds from Uncle Sam. The strange shipment wasn't just divvied up among closed military plants and rear armament depots as work clothes that could be worn only on base. Some were sent to Israeli military prisons... as prison garb. Not only was the U.S. military miffed, the uniforms sent the inmates up in arms, as well.



   Isn't it enough that Jews have a ‘wailing wall'???
   The photo that won first prize in a national nature photography contest was a rare photo of Israel's newly designated national bird - the Hoopie (Duchifat in Hebrew) shedding tears. Now the photo is on its way to an international photography contest as the Israeli entry.
   Birds indeed have tear glands, but what made the Duchifat tearful? Nobody knows.

* Taken by a special-ed student from Haifa, Pavel Dormidovtov, who said the accommodating bird didn't budge an inch until he finished photographing it from every possible angle.


* Copyright© 2010 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.