Peace, pakaks, and Annapolis

November 27, 2007 - 2:44 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Life, Politics 

Whenever people talk about peace in this region of the world you can be sure of one thing.  There’ll be more terror alerts in Israel

And more terror alerts means more traffic jams as the police go into gear and set up road blocks into all the country’s major cities. 

So I shouldn’t have been in the least bit surprised this morning when I left the house at 10am. (after the morning rush hour is usually well and truly over) and ran smack bang into a huge pakak – as Israelis like to call hold-ups here.  The traffic was hardly moving. 

Annapolis!” I grumbled to myself. 

My 20 minute journey took an hour.  Of course if there was just the slightest chance that peace might truly emerge from this international get-together then I’d be happy to sit in line for the rest of the day, or even a month if it comes to that; but peace conferences seem to come and go, and the only constant is the pakak we find ourselves sitting in as yet another terrorist organization threatens hell, fire and flames if we so much as think about a peaceful Middle East.

Israel’s favorite treat… Iranian pistachio nuts

November 21, 2007 - 3:09 PM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Food, General, Life, Politics, War 

I think the Iranians should rethink their position on blowing Israel off the face of the planet given that we’re one of their biggest customers for pistachio nuts.

Yes, that’s right. It turns out that all those yummy pistachio nuts we’ve been cracking open of an evening actually come from Iran

How embarrassing is that? 

Iran is apparently the biggest exporter of pistachio nuts, and Israel is the biggest importer. The nuts are being imported into Israel from Turkey

This hasn’t gone down well with the US government. According to a news report on Ynet US Undersecretary of Agriculture, Mark Keenum has demanded that the import of Iranian nuts into Israel be halted immediately. The Americans want the import stopped as part of the economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic. 

Keenum, who met with Israel‘s Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon in Rome, said he thought it was absurd that Israel was purchasing most of its pistachio nuts from an enemy state, and added that Washington was extremely troubled that Israel, America‘s friend, favored Iranian nuts over American ones. How COULD we? 

Now the truth is out, I can imagine the scenario. Iranian pistachio nut growers will be flocking to Tehran in their thousands to demonstrate in favor of Israel“We love Israel”, “Israeli nut eaters rule”, “Save Israel, save our pistachios!”   

Help, an ice cream shortage in Israel

November 19, 2007 - 9:22 AM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Food, General, Life, Politics 

Most countries suffer serious things like power shortages, water shortages, or food shortages, but here in Israel we’re at the luxury end of the market and we suffer ice cream shortages. 

Yes, an ice cream shortage. Quick, declare a state of emergency. This is serious dammit. 

Apparently Israel‘s powdered milk reserves are nearly empty because of a steep increase in milk demand in recent months, according to Shyke Drori, the head of the Israel Dairy Board. Demand has been growing even though dairy prices have gone up by 10% in the last six months. 

First to get hit in a milk shortage is Tnuva’s factory for milk powder and this is causing various food manufacturers, but particularly ice cream makers, to quake in their boots. Warning letters have been sent out to dairy farmers who have not met their production quotas, threatening to reduce those quotas, transfer them to other producers, and force them to eat non-diary icecream for the rest of their lives. 

The board has also asked the government to remove customs duties on powdered milk imported from the US to allow ice cream production to continue, and to increase production quotas by 40 million liters a year. 

You can bet this will be resolved faster than the teacher’s strike. I mean we’re talking icecream here, not something insignificant like education.  

Quake on the way

November 18, 2007 - 6:33 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Life 

Crickey, as if we don’t have enough to worry about with Iran, and Syria, and Al Qaeda and all – now we have to worry about earthquakes as well. 

According to geology experts, Israel‘s in line for a “big one” and it could happen at any time. (Should I switch the electricity and gas off now I wonder?) The last big earthquake in this region was in 1033, which is why no-one here remembers it. 

Israel‘s now long over due for the next one and apparently it poses a significant threat to the country since most of the buildings were built before earthquake-resistant construction codes were even thought of. And even when they were, there’s some doubt whether anyone actually paid any attention to them. 

Israel‘s problem is that it’s located on two significant fault lines, the Dead Sea Fault, and the Carmel Fault. After lots of careful research Dr. Shmuel Marco, a geologist at Tel Aviv University, says that in the past Israel’s major earthquakes happened every 400 years or so, 31BC, 363 AD, 749 AD, and 1033 AD. So, if you do the math, that means, yup, almost a whole millennium has gone by since the last strong quake. 

“We are now in a deficit,” Marco told the Jpost. “There’s been no release of tension, just buildup. It’s like if you have a strip of rubber between your hands and keep pulling it – you know that it’s going to snap eventually.” 

Now some people get alarmed at this kind of thing and run around like Chicken Licken, but others just think business. One enterprising Israeli thought up an earthquake alarm that sets of a siren a minute or two before an earthquake hits. Doesn’t sound like much, but you should be able to get out of the building, or at least under your table. 

We had a teeny tiny earthquake a couple of years back and the inventor was delighted to tell me that his invention worked like a treat. 

What an exciting country Israel is. There’s always something good to worry about. Surely we should be expecting a bird flu crisis right about now…   

When thin is just way too thin

November 18, 2007 - 11:42 AM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: General, Life, Pop Culture 

Let’s face it, it’s hard to like models. They strut about on the catwalk and are emblazoned across our streets, and magazines, and televisions, setting impossible standards of thinness and beauty that we just can’t hope to imitate.

Whatever our size or shape, we feel fat, and our kids feel fat. And that’s when the problems begin.

But after you’ve seen the pictures of once top Israeli model Hila Elmalich on CNN last week, it’s impossible to think of these girls as anything but victims.

Elmalich, who worked with the Israeli branch of famous modeling agency Elite, was rushed to hospital a few months ago suffering from anorexia. She was too weak to stand and was seen collapsing on the floor and in the arms of Israeli fashion photographer Adi Barkan who found her unconscious on the floor of her home.

She died last Wednesday, weighing just 66 lbs (30 kilos). That’s less than my nine-year-old weighs.

Barkan isn’t letting this go. And after you’ve seen the video, you’ll know why. A few months ago he set up a campaign to encourage the fashion industry to oust superthin models and use only ones with a healthy Body Mass Index. Now his crusade is bearing fruit. In the wake of Elmalich’s death, Elite has announced that it will set healthier body mass index requirements for their models.

See the video (appearing on CNN courtesy of a tip from ISRAEL21c) here:

Let’s hope this is the start of a responsible fashion industry.

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