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Recently, a one-of-a-kind ‘righteous gentile’ passed away – 88 year-old Mike Flanigan – whose actions aren’t tied to saving Jews during the Holocaust. Flanagan threw caution to the wind to save the Jewish state in 1948.   

           Deeply affected by what he witnessed when his unit liberated Bergen-Belson Concentration Camp, Mike Flanagan (together with his buddy, Scottish tank commander Harry MacDonald) left his army unit as the British prepared to withdraw from Palestine, and joined the Haganah. 

           But unlike other MACHALniks* Flanagan and MacDonald brought with them a priceless ‘dowry’: two Cromwell tanks which the daring twosome stole from a British army depot near Haifa and ‘delivered’ in Tel-Aviv…in a mad dash on their treads after a rendezvous with Haganah escape vehicles failed to materialize. The two tanks, which were hidden in Givatyim until the British left, became the nucleus of Israel’s armoured corp. Mike Flanigan – who changed his name to Michael Peled* - was laid to rest in Kibbutz Shaar Haamakim. 

 * 1948 IDF volunteers from abroad, 150 of them were non-Jews .

* After the war. Flanagan converted to Judaism, joined a kibbutz and became an agronomist.



When an Israeli farmer found himself in a wheelchair after a work accident, he complained to his buddies that the wheelchair was less comfortable than the seat on his farm tractor. 

           Why? Because wheelchairs don’t have shock absorbers. 

           The complaint led to a start-up called SoftWheel that Integrated shock absorber attributes into wheelchairs. One of the three symmetrical shock absorbers suspended inside the wheel kicks-in selectively when one of the ‘arms’ encounters an impediment – absorbing the jolt without the impact energy being transferred to the wheel axle itself, reducing stress to the rider’s body  – a solution that involves seven new patents that ‘reinvented the wheel’.

           The innovation – which works with the precision of three high-wire traipse artists* – can be applicable to bicycles and other vehicles, not just high-end wheelchairs.

 * one of three-man team is an aeronautical engineer



The ‘failure-to-launch’ epidemic in the west of unmotivated adults in their twenties or early thirties who have moved back in with mom and pop – at times sponging off their parents indefinitely, is well documented. (The BBC says 25 percent of young Brits age 20-34 share their parents’ home.*)

           Can Israel suggest a way to maybe coax overgrown children to move out and live on their own, even at a price?

           Israeli banks concocted the concept of the ‘supportive loaner’ to skirt Bank of Israel limitations on who qualifies for a mortgage.  Low income couples who have little chance of meeting payments on the monstrous mortgage they need to take out to buy a modest apartment* can qualify by bringing one of their parents into the bargain as a ‘supportive loaner’ - co-signing the kids’ mortgage papers and committing to pay a certain part of the monthly payments…until the earning power of the young couple (hopefully) increases.

           It’s estimated that 10 percent of the mortgages now being taken out in Israel involve a parent obligating to return a certain part of the mortgage every month.

 * 14 percent in the USA between the ages of 24-34, and 42 (!) percent of kids ages 20-29 in Canada (giving a new meaning to the Canadian idiom ‘sleeping in’).  

  ** for example, a million NIS mortgage, based on 10,000 NIS ($2,857) in monthly income.



The old Yiddish saying ‘you can’t dance at two weddings at the same time’ had lethal consequences for Shafiq Kabha from Kfar Qara after the popular Arab vocalist turned down a request* to appear at an Um el-Fachem wedding.

           He may have begged off saying he had a previous engagement, but police suspect that the jilted father of the groom brooded and brooded for a full 11 months over the slight, then engaged two of his sons to get even by gunning down the vocalist.

           Alas, not only had Kabha kept an engagement in Jerusalem the night of the humiliating ‘no show’; he was ambushed, one should note, after he had the chutzpah to appear at someone else’s simcha (celebration) in Um el-Fachem...   

 * or failed to appear as promised, according to another story.



When the Israel Railways chose to outsource maintenance of 30 percent of its rolling stock to Alstom, the French company that built Israel’s most advanced locomotives and cars, ‘naturally’ local railroad workers tried to derail the move that had been initiated as both an economy move and a safety measure. Railway employees finally acquiesced - in exchange for a 25 percent salary hike as compensation (and a one-time 40,000 NIS* bonus), but that’s not all: The workers’ committee insisted that ‘working conditions’ in their new collective work agreement include construction of a two-storey-high acoustic separation wall the length of two football fields* at Lod and Haifa workshops between themselves and the ‘foreign invaders’ from Alstom – including separate bathrooms.

 * $11,429

** a temporary three-year arrangement until Alstom can build their own workshops.



How far will Spain go to bolster its floundering economy?  To the ends of the earth, it seems. Spain (and Portugal in its wake*) is passing legislation that will invite Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain more than five hundred years ago (in 1492!) to reclaim Spanish citizenship. Applicants won’t be required to live in Spain (or give up their Israeli citizenship), but a Spanish passport would allow passport holders to work anywhere in the EU…

           To be eligible, applicants must show ‘proof’ they are descended from exiles by demonstrating knowledge of Ladino** or membership in a Sefardic synagogue or showing they hold one of “5,220 Sefardic surnames.” But the devil is in the details and someone in Madrid didn’t do their homework. 

           The ‘list’ includes not only Spanish-Jewish names like Papo and Toledano; it also includes Zellinger …a super-duper Ashkenazi Polish-Jewish surname…

 * If controversy over ‘who is a Jew’ wasn’t enough, now Spain and Portugal can squabble over ‘who is a Spanish Jew and who is a Portuguese Jew.’

** a Judeo-Spanish tongue with a medieval Spanish foundation