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American poet Ogden Nash once quipped that “diplomacy is to do and say the nastiest things in the nicest way,” but the Israeli cabinet wasn’t listening…

            Defense Minister Ehud Barak sparked a diplomatic incident when he clashed with fellow cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman after the Minister of Foreign Affairs undiplomatically declared that “Britain, Germany and France have made themselves irrelevant” [as honest brokers in advancing the peace process, due to their biased anti-Israel behavior).

Taking issue with Lieberman’s statement, Barak retorted that “Germany, France and Britain are not Tanzania.”

Doubly ironically, the angry Tanzanian protest landed in Lieberman’s lap.




Every dog may have his day, but a puppy dog in kibbutz Kfar Ruppin’s breeding kennel was definitely born under a lucky star, with the incredible fortune to have Baruch Tubol around when his mother Venus, a White Swiss Shepherd, whelped six pups.

The 60-year-old kennel manager took one look at the last pup to emerge – clinically dead-on-arrival, having drowned in the womb when the umbilical cord detached before it could be delivered. Instead of throwing in the towel, Tubol sprang into action. Pumping the pup’s abdomen with his thumbs, the breeder first expelled a ton of fluid from the lifeless puppy’s chest cavity and stomach, then – undeniably going above and beyond the call of duty – Tubol set about administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (perhaps nose-and-mouth would be more accurate) until the wet ball of fur finally let out a weak but unmistakable yelp. (Yisrael HaYom)




An academic study of relationships between Israeli women and their cleaning ladies found that Israeli women differed from women elsewhere.

First of all, Israeli housewives who employ an ozeret (literally ‘helper’ – only 16 percent of all households do so – tend to employ a cleaner from the same ethnic background as themselves. Thus, Israelis who came as penniless immigrants in the 1970s from Russia tend to employ as their domestics penniless immigrants who came in the 1990s from Russia. The study also found that employers try to blur the asymmetrical relationship between employer and employee: not only do most refrain from saying anything that would smack of ‘management,’ but one guilt-ridden employer also admitted she’d never sit in the garden with a friend sipping coffee when her domestic was in the house because she’d feel like a lazy bum.

In some households, the relationship becomes so fuzzy that hired help become as close as family. “Our ozeret was at our wedding and I was at her son’s bar-mitzvah,” said one 33-year-old informant. In another case, the lady of the house gave the ozeret’s son the keys to her Cadillac for two days when he got married so that the young man could feel like a million dollars… at least temporarily.




More than a million people visit the Sachne Springs – a warm spring in the Beit She’an Valley-fed ‘natural Jacuzzi’ surrounded by lawns dotted with palm trees – but only 20,000 visit the reconstruction of a tower and watchtower settlement  at the Tel Amal Museum a hop, skip and a jump away at the adjacent Kibbutz Gan Hashlosha.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to transform swimming and picnicking visits to the Sachne Springs into an “interactive historical experience”: some 3.5m NIS ($920,000) will be invested in the experiential learning project that will ‘transport’ visitors – figuratively – back in time to the 1930s, trucking Sachne picnickers to the museum as portrayed in vintage photos. Families will be able to reenact the construction of tower and watchtower settlements on scaled-down models with their own hands, while dressed in vintage Zionist pioneer garb.

            The only hurdle in the grand plan to “link the young generation to their history” is that while Netanyahu is well schooled in history, the PM seems blissfully unaware that most of the million visitors to the Sachne Springs are Israeli Arabs whose parents or grandparents were behind the 1936–1939 Arab Revolt that made tower and watchtower settlements necessary in the first place.




In Israel, it is now against the law to cut down a mature tree – even on private land – without a green light from forestry officials. In fact, “municipal forestry officials” have been appointed in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, mandated to enforce the law in Israel’s three biggest cities. City planners are not totally up a tree when they want to widen a tree-lined street: there’s a loophole in the law. If one wants to remove a mature tree, all  one has to do is replant the mature tree somewhere else. The operation and recovery of the ‘patient’ must be accompanied by an experienced agronomist.

The Tel Aviv municipality replanted 813 trees in 2011 alone – at a cost of 20,000 NIS ($5,263) per tree. In another case, building plans  were modified to accommodate large trees. And when there’s no option but to cut down a mature tree, the ‘offender’ must plant trees elsewhere equal in value to the green imprint of the lost tree.

The law not only makes it a crime to cut down trees, it makes it a crime to prune a tree or damage a tree in any manner that could jeopardize the tree’s life. Offenders can receive a fine of up to 36,000 NIS ($9,474) and six months in jail.