As most of the trendy things in the US today find themselves just as trendy in Tel Aviv sooner rather than later, I bring you news of something new on the market which has the potential to change the dynamics, if not the very foundation, of the essence of Israeli romanticism (is that an oxymoron?).

It seems that a New York based cosmetic company, who go by the stylish name – Lotta Luv – have built quite a following specialising in lip glosses and balms based on well known Americas favourite food items such as Cheese Cheetos, Hersheys chocolate, Reese’s peanut butter cups and Twinkies.

Recently, they signed up Wrigleys, the chewing gum company and have announced they will be releasing Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Winterfresh and Wrigley’s Spearmint balms and glosses later this year. And with Wrigley now being owned by Mars, it is surely only a matter of time before Snickers, Milky Way, M&Ms, Twix and Skittles will join the product line.

OK, so maybe these are not necessarily the most exciting of flavours for the those Israelis who are not American Olim, but you know where I am going here.

It will take little to adapt this cosmoceutical innovation to the Israeli psyche. What charming Frecha will not want to please her man by wearing a Shawarma gloss or a Bissli balm? Surely, not one single member of the Arsim subgenus will be able to resist a pair of lips sporting a Falafel balm or Bamba gloss. Different partner, different night or just want to ring the changes ladies? Theres always Shislik, Humus, Krembo and Schnitzel!

And a thought just crossed my mind, maybe its time to re-release that classic movie – 9 1/2 Weeks!

Somehow, I just knew that the “Towel Story” wasn’t going to just lay down and die.

Israeli’s are famous the world over for getting that little extra “discount” when they leave a hotel. Stories abound of the many items which have disappeared from their hotel rooms. In fact anything that isn’t tied down is considered as fair game by the vacationing Israeli. Even some things that are truely fixtures, such as bathroom mirrors and sink taps (fawcets), have been known to disappear. As I remember it, there is even an ad on television which shows Israeli tourists attempting to smuggle their “oh so comfortable” mattress out of a hotel. Who knows if that was based on real life, somehow I am inclined to think it may have been!

It is estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 towels are taken each year from Israeli hotels alone. Thats a lot of shekels worth of cotton! One hotel manager referred to the “towel meter”.

“When we have many foreign tourists in the hotel we do a lot of laundry. When Israelis are staying with us we do a lot of unpacking, to replace missing towels.”

Now, it seems, some hotel chains are even considering placing security tags on their towels and installing scanners at their exit doors in the same way as most clothes shops do today. Any tag setting off an alarm will cause the guests to have their luggage searched and who knows what else the hotel may find on its way out with a new owner.

For the Israeli on holiday, this practice has become thought of as their inalienable right. And nothing or noone is going to take it away from them.

This just in from Ynet. :

“A family from Netanya has been found in possession of a store of goods stolen from an Eilat hotel. Among the stolen items are 60 towels, hundreds of coffee bags, soaps, and other toiletries.

Sheraton Hotel Towels

The mother was arrested Sunday and questioned by police. She admitted to the allegations against her and was finally released under restricted conditions.

The police investigation has revealed that the family left the Sheraton Hotel in Eilat, where they were vacationing, on Saturday night and arrived home at around 4 am Sunday. They unpacked the goods upon arriving.

But unfortunately for the family, police were holding surprise searches in the homes of youths suspected of drug and theft violations. Among the suspects was the family’s 17-year old son.

Police arrived at the home, presented the family with a warrant, and proceeded to search the premises. They found dozens of trash bags filled with goods from the hotel.

The mother then told police she had taken the things from the hotel. She insisted all through her interrogation that she had not stolen, but rather taken the goods. She added, “Everyone takes, so I took, too.”

Police officers confiscated the items and notified the hotel of the case.”

One question. What the hell were they driving that was big enough to carry all that loot?

The headline says it all:

ELAL gets $32,000 to fly dog Business class

As a caring parent, Rivkah, a certain 60 year old lady of questionable fiscal savvy, if not sanity, wanted to make sure that when she and her baby fly internationally she should be able to calm him down if he becomes anxious or scared during the flight, without interrupting the other passengers.

Unlike other parents, in Rivkah’s case however, the baby was actually her beloved eight year old canine companion, Or, whom she refused to have flown with the cargo, as is usually done with pets.

So, several weeks ago Rivka contacted ELAL with an unusual request: She wanted to have her boxer fly with her from Paris to Tel Aviv Business class. The airline was surprised, but sensing the opportunity to make a few extra shekels, they decided to try and assist Rivkah.

“We have never encountered such a request before,” said an ELAL spokesperson, “But after the lady explained her special relationship with her dog and expressed her willingness to pay extra in order to fly with him, we agreed.”

It is estimated that Rivkah paid around $32,000 (thats about nis120,000, or significantly more than the average annual salary in Israel) to guarantee that she and Or got Business class all to themselves.

In order to allow for the pampered pooch’s private flight, El Al had to remove several seats to make room for Or’s cage. Rivkah also hired a veterinarian to accompany them.

Just wondering … has she never heard of a private jet. It would have cost her a lot less.

Hot on the heels of their recent “EL AL No Frills ticket” announcement, they have now added “EL AL Cheap Thrills” .

In another (dubious) world first for El Al, Israels national airline announced yesterday that they will sell Victorias Secret products as part of their onboard Duty Free fare starting in September.

Initially they will just offer the brands cosmetics and perfumes but the deal is to expand into the world famous lingerie line in the months to follow.

The cosmetics and perfumes are really just a big yawn. They will join the existing lineup of “smells and spells” from companies such as Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Revlon, Chanel, Clinique and Givenchy. Given the power of this new brand name, should we expect at least one of these existing big names to reconsider its future relationship with EL AL? Probably not. The future of such companies is hardly predicated on the profits from in-flight sales, so it is unlikely that they are quaking in their boots over this new upstart competitor. In a true market economy, such news would probably be good for the consumer with the possibility of special in-flight promotions. In an El Al cabin however, this is also probably unlikely.

More interesting, and no not just because I am a poor mere mortal male, are the ramifications of the potential inclusion of Victorias Secret lingerie.

Lets be honest here. If the truth were known, there is more than a small percentage of El Al’s male passengers who, at one time or another, have stolen a furtive glance or three at a Victorias Secret Catalogue. Admit it guys, who hasn’t! Soon, the Duty Free book in the seat pocket in front of you will have an additional attraction. No longer will it be just a place to try and find a desperate, last minute, over priced gift for ones nearest and dearest. Now, it has the potential to actually become an “interesting read”.

Will we still pretend to casually flick through the pages, lingering just a tad longer on Victorias section? Or will we take our time at the appropriate moment and risk the disapproval of the wife or elderly matron seated next to us?

Will we find the Lingerie Supplement offered separately in a plain brown paper wrapper?

Will the relative silence of the cabin on a night flight be broken by the snickering of small boys huddled around a copy while their parents sleep?

Will we become used to the sight of their adolescent brothers attempting to surreptitiously sneak a copy into the bathroom?

And don’t forget that you can pre-order duty free items on the El AL website. Will this now get added to the list of dubious surfing locations in those adult site filters?

Much as I have no wish to go see him myself, I know that there are some poor souls out there for whom life will not be complete if they do not grasp the opportunity. So, as a “public service”, I am helping broadcast the news that, according to the show’s producers, ticket sales for Leonard Cohen’s September concert in Israel will begin Saturday night August 1 at the “Lean Ticket Office”. Estimates are that ticket prices will range between NIS 400-500 and more.

Now, if you really cannot wait another day, I understand that there is a backdoor presale arrangement for members of the Official Leonard Cohen Forum and tickets went on sale this morning for the chosen few. It looks as if this is where you need to go to get more information..

Rumour has it that this will be a sell out so, if this is what you really want to see, you better get your tickets before they are all gone and the Box Office closes (Just trying to help the old man pay his taxes)!


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It seems that King Bibi has got himself into another little furor today.

The hebrew Ynet News site is carrying the story tonight that the army base where Yair Netanyahu is undergoing his much discussed basic training is actually housed in a location in the south belonging to Military Intelligence.  As such, in view of the sensitive nature of the establishment, it tends to operate in a very discrete manner and has never before held an “Open Day” for the parents of its inductees.

Not until now that is!

Ynet reports that today, during only his third day of basic training, “Yair the Unfortunate” was able to welcome Israels royal couple to the first ever such event at the base.

OK, so King Bibi may have pulled a few strings in order for his grieving Queen Sara to go visit her baby.  What the hell, Bibi pulls stunts like that all the time and, for that matter, he is not the only member of the ruling elite to do so.

However, the story doesn’t stop there.  Just in case you missed it, this was only Yairs third day.  Now, whoever heard of any such event being held so quickly into basic training, anywhere? 

Well actually, there may just have been another private agenda coming into play here.  It turns out that the Base Commanders son just happens to have a Barmitzvah coming very soon.  And, it is reported that, at the end of the royal visit, the Base Commander in question whipped out his video camera and asked Bibi to offer a special Barmitzvah message. 

Bibi, never one to miss a photo op, immediately obliged while Sara somewhat grudgingly stood aside.

Seems like a fair trade, one (not so, as it turns out) private video message in exchange for a (first time ever) Open Day to visit Yair.

I wonder how long before the video finds its way onto Youtube?

Its not there yet, I looked, but I did find this somewhat approriate piece.  The parallels are really incredible.

Every now and again, something happens in the Knesset to prove that at least some of its members are actually real folks, with a sense of humour.

It happened today when King Bibi bulldozed through a piece of self serving legislation designed to do absolutely nothing else but allow him to continue his tenuous existance as Prime Minister and leader of his ragtail coalition.

Now, it seems that certain members of the Kadima party, the guys who should have been in power, were so offended by Bibis reversion to his former furniture salesman mentality in “bending of the rules of democracy” that they donned anti pollution masks.

To quote Kadima MK Yoel Hasson, “True, this is an act that does not fall in the realm of a normal parliamentary tool, but the stench that emanates from Netanyahu’s laws of survival calls for such a drastic step. The entire public needs to know what kind of bad smell is wafting from the Knesset today.”

Once the evening TV news programs are over, most of Israel will.

Kadima MKs don masks

I guess that, once Barak Obama stuck his note in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before technology caught up with this most fundamental of Jewish customs.

Not in Jerusalem? You can now post your Western Wall notes via Twitter!

From the the same convoluted thought process that gave you the Kosher telephone, I am happy today to introduce you to “Tweet at the Kotel”!

Yes, using the power of Twitter, you can now Tweet Your Prayers @TheKotel, from anywhere in the world. And, whats more, its Free!

To quote the website – www.tweetyourprayers.info:

“When we created a user account for the Kotel (as it is called by Jews) we had several intentions in mind. First, and foremost, it was to use the popularity and prevalence of Twitter in order to make the Kotel more accessible to people around the world. It seemed perfectly sensible, almost trivial, to provide anyone on the planet the opportunity to quickly and easily place his prayer in the Kotel. Tweeting only takes a few seconds; it’s substantially easier, quicker and cheaper than hoping on a plane to Israel.

The Kotel Twitter’s account allows you to practice the old tradition of placing notes with your prayers in between the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel, also known as The Kotel. All you need to do is to tweet your prayers and wishes, and they’ll be printed on real paper, cut down to small notes, and placed in the Wall. All this with respect to your privacy, from wherever you are and whichever device you are using.

I hope these guys have a good SPAM filter! Oh, wait a minute, there isn’t such a thing in Twitter. Is there?

Not to be outdone by their more illustrious European counterparts, the Israeli Royal family today waved goodbye to their eldest son as he entered the IDF for his military service.

In a planned three year IDF career which ensures that he will not to be overshadowed by the British princes William (a fully fledged SAR helicopter pilot) and Harry (pin up boy of the British Army in the Afghanistan conflict), Yair Netanyahu will undergo a fast track three weeks of basic training before joining the military spokesmans office.

As he consoled a tearful Queen Sara, King Bibi, himself an alumnii of an elite Israeli commando unit, was heard to mutter “Thats my boy!”

In Yairs defence, it should be noted that he is doing better than the son of Bibi’s predecessor who, it is said, made a hasty departure from “Eretz Israel” to avoid military service.

27 July 2009 – See Update: Universal Soldier #2

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