Nude Tel Aviv?, Barghouti’s jailhouse education, ‘killer’ ads

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Here are some recent stories out of Israel that you may have missed.

Give us this our daily bread — on Passover

A Muslim prisoner in an Israeli jail has appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court to force the Israel Prisons Service to provide him and his fellow coreligionists in prison with bread during the Passover holiday.

Madab Raik is being held in a mixed Jewish-Arab cell block in a Beersheva prison; only Muslims are in his cell. In prisons with exclusively Arab populations, bread is distributed before the holiday for use during Passover. That’s not the case, however, in mixed Arab-Jewish cell blocks.

Raik’s attorney, Gilad Barnea, told the Jerusalem Post that his client has accepted "a proportional constraint" by only asking for bread and not other chametz products.

“We believe that this ban, the withholding of bread from the petitioner and others like him, is a violation of his constitutional right, one that is neither proportional nor reasonable," Barnea told the newspaper.

The attorney for the Israel Prisons Service told the Supreme Court that giving Arab prisoners incarcerated with Jewish prisoners bread on Passover would violate religious law because those observing the holiday may not sit at a table where bread is being served. The injunction against bread and other chametz products during Passover applies not only to eating but to owning and even seeing.

There she is, Miss Israel

Israel crowned its 60th Miss Israel 2010 during a ceremony in Haifa.

Shavit Wiesel, 20, of Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel, was the choice of the judges and an audience allowed to assist with their votes.

Wiesel serves in the Israeli army and upon her discharge hopes to work with children with special needs. Sorry boys, she has had a steady boyfriend for five years.

In allowing the audience to assist in the voting, the event was borrowing a page from “American Idol” and similar contests.

Nude Tel Aviv — exposed

Photographer Spencer Tunick, who is famous for taking photographs of nude crowds at sites around the world, is planning to bring his project to Israel.

"He has not decided on a site yet, but when there’s a lot of press coverage he is less likely to come somewhere," Tunick’s producer in Israel, Harry Fruchter, told the Jerusalem Post. “He’d like to work without any outside influences. If he can’t find that kind of situation, when he comes he will probably be less cooperative.”

It’s not clear yet where, or whether, Tunick will stage his Israeli photo shoot. Reports say the likely sites are Tel Aviv or the Dead Sea.

Tunick recently photographed 5,200 nude Australians on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, one of 75 locations at which he has taken nude photos of crowds.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry and the Tel Aviv Municipality appeared excited at the prospect of a Tunick visit, calling it good for the image of the country and the city.

From the floor of the Knesset, religious lawmakers blasted the idea. Some said a photo of a mass of nude Jews would be reminiscent of the Holocaust. Others called it prostitution.

"I understand that one of the shoots is supposed to take place in the Dead Sea. This is the lowest place on earth, and after this it may sink even lower," said lawmaker Uri Orbach of the Habayit Hayehudi party.

Until 120 years … or more

A representative of the Guinness Book of World Records is slated to come to Israel to confirm that David Pur, 115, is in fact as old as he says he is.

If so, the immigrant from Persia, who made aliyah in 1948, will be confirmed as the oldest man alive in Israel.

Pur has three surviving children from a total of nine, as well as 18 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren. The centenarian still goes to morning prayer services daily and recently told Israel National News that he has had "plenty of time to memorize the biblical writings."

Pur served as an adviser to the Shah of Iran. He speaks several languages, including Persian, Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic and French.

He said he smoked for "nearly 110 years" and that he avoids meat and fried food, and eats "as many fruits and vegetables as possible." Pur turned down an opportunity for remarriage 10 years ago.

‘Killer’ ad airs

An Israeli supermarket chain whose motto is "We offer killer prices" is bringing the message home with an ad that spoofs the killing of a top Hamas terrorist in a Dubai hotel last month. The terrorist allegedly was killed by Israel’s Mossad assassins.

Actors dressed as secret agents, wearing the same clothes shown in the hotel surveillance videos on the day that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed — down to the tennis racket slung across one female operative’s back and her floppy wide-brimmed hat — are shown in commercials for the discount supermarket chain Machsanei Kimat Hinam (Almost Free Warehouse).

Israel’s spy agency has been blamed for the assassination but, as always, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement. The ad comes on the heels of several Israeli comedy shows that also have parodied the hit job.

School of jail

Class can feel like prison; sometimes it is. For jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, it has been an education.

The Fatah leader, who is serving five life terms for involvement in the murder of several Israelis during the second intifada, completed his doctorate in political science this month while in prison, the Jerusalem Post reported. His thesis is titled “The Legislative and Political Performance of the Palestinian Legislative Council and its Contribution to the Democratic Process in Palestine from 1996 to 2008.” He was allowed to bring hundreds of books into prison in order to research and write his 341-page thesis.

It wasn’t the first time Barghouti used his time in an Israeli prison to earn a degree: During the first intifada he completed his high school degree, in 1980.

Several hundred Palestinians reportedly are studying for university degrees in Israeli prisons.

U.S. hoops phenom quits Israeli team

After problems on and off the court, a former U.S. high school basketball star has quit the Israeli team Maccabi Haifa.

Jeremy Tyler of San Diego left Israel last week, leaving before the season’s end. Tyler had made headlines when he arrived in Israel last August after dropping out of high school a year before graduation to go pro.

Reportedly he had trouble adjusting to life in Israel, struggling with discipline issues. His coach said he had poor work habits, and his teammates said he was arrogant, The New York Times reported.

American businessman Jeffrey Rosen owns the Maccabi Haifa squad.

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