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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, December 2009 - Column 2


   Sitting as a High Court of Justice (BAGATZ) the Israel Supreme Court examines whether public bodies are out of line, having overstepped their authority or abridged the rights of the plaintiff - all this without going through the lower courts.
   When coupled with the Court's tradition to consider almost any issue judicable, the upshot is a host of very weird cases fielded from the public. The most recent in this category is an Israeli named Shlomo Avni who petitioned the High Court of Justice claiming the right to be eaten by wild animals after he was dead, saying he was only repaying a debt to nature as a lifetime consumer in the food chain.
   In a 772-word decision (perhaps one of the shortest in the court's history) three Supreme Court judges wished the 80-year old plaintiff long life, then unanimously rejected his petition. In doing so, the Israeli judges quoted Jeremiah 9:21 and the prophet's warning of dreadful times when "carcasses of men fall as dung upon the open field..."
   Avni, far from moved by prophesy or public propriety said he'd take his case to...The Hague.

* Seeing is believing? The decision can be accessed in Hebrew at,



   A decade ago Hanukah was marked by regular jelly doughnuts. Today, the types of sufganiyot sold in Israel is mind-boggling*, but there is always elbow room for another innovative entrepreneur...although this doughnut is for adult consumption only.
   The 100 gram 4.5 NIS ($1.20) sufgania debuted just in time for Hanukah is a dunking doughnut kind. Forget about coffee. Sold in pubs and bars, it comes already packed liquid refreshments: 90 mm of pure vodka inside. But let the consumer beware: Half-a-dozen doughnuts equal a six-pack of beer - three times the alcohol limit to drink and drive.
   Another first for the holiday season: scented Chanukah candles. Think aromatherapy, not Christmas pine.

* In terms of shape, all are jelly-doughnut shape; even ‘imported' chocolate-coated doughnuts don't have a hole in the center.


   An immigrant whose divorced non-Jewish mother-in-law didn't qualify for new immigrant status, paved the way for her arrival with an innovative family unification scheme. First he divorced his own wife. Then he married his former mother-in-law.
   The ruse concocted by the three ex-Russians worked like a charm for four years. But a year short of his second wife's eligibility for Israeli citizenship, immigration authorities decided to check who was cohabiting with whom. In practice, the fellow turned out to have a ‘common law' wife - his ex - with whom the divorcee was living happily-ever-after their divorce, although officially married to his ex-in-law - landing the two-timing couple in the clinker, and the former mother-in-law back in the former USSR.


   Israel Railroads not only has a rolling synagogue from Beersheva to Tel Aviv.* Multitasking Israelis have also turned downtime on the commuter train into an educational experience. The 36-minute humdrum commute from the bedroom suburb of Modi'in to Tel-Aviv has been upgraded by the passengers themselves, who turned one of the cars during the early morning run into an ad-hoc classroom where commuter-volunteers deliver free lectures in their field of expertise to other commuters on the train.
   Big meetings? No need to hire a hall or agonize where's the most convenient location - not in Israel. Simply transform an afternoon train from Haifa to Beersheva - with its 16 stations strung-out the length of a noodle-shaped country - into a convenient networking platform!
   That's what a commercial networking service for small businesses did. According to the ‘rules' - before boarding, each participant had 60 seconds to pitch their business to anyone who happened to be on the station platform. Participants then rendezvoused with prospective clients they'd met on another platform - the organizers' website. By the time the train pulled into Beersheva, half-way into the six -hour ‘maiden voyage', the gathering had attracted 200 small-time entrepreneurs eager to make connections.

* see October 2009 column 1 at


   Following media exposes about the exorbitant costs of trips abroad by senior members of the Government, recently Israel decided to buy a plane that will serve as the country's ‘Air Force One". In the long-run it will be cheaper, but in the short-run, the Government has begun holding public tenders to determine who will fly senior ministers abroad. In essence, the PM was recently ‘auctioning off' to the lowest bidder.
   Arkia's winning bid for a charter flight that would take Natanyahu and his entourage to the United States was $400,000 and used a smaller aircraft that required a fuel stop in Europe, allowing the ‘upstart' to underbid arch rival El-Al whose $1.2 bid was based on a non-stop jumbo. But there was a hitch.
Turns out that the PM needed a chair that turns into a bed for the 14 hour flight...and Arkia has no such equipment on its smaller aircraft. Naturally, they asked to buy such a seat guessed it! El Al.
   El Al said it would be delighted to do so, for - hold your seats: $130,000! Natanyahu was forced to personally intervene between the quarrelsome two, prompting the national airline - whether graciously or grudgingly - to agreed to install the special seat at cost price.


* Copyright© 2009 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.