JERUSALEM (JTA) — Here are some recent stories out of Israel that you may have missed:
Taxpayer shekels at work?
Israel’s first family seems to like its creature comforts. The prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem spent $1,700 on scented candles and more than $4,200 on wine in 2012. There was also some $2,600 spent on mezuzahs.
The water bill for the Netanyahus’ personal home in Caesarea was more than $20,000, possibly due to the home’s private pool. The flower bill was $5,700 and the dry cleaning tab came to $2,800.
Spending on Netanyahu’s three homes, which also include a private Jerusalem home, amounted to $934,000 in 2012, according to a report by the Israeli government watchdog group Movement for Freedom of Information. The group obtained the figures after filing a court petition. The amount is more than double that spent by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008.
Honest dealer a diamond in the rough
When a veteran diamond dealer from the Israel Diamond Exchange lost a bag containing some $200,000 worth of uninsured diamonds, he was sure he would have to take out a large loan to pay back the broker who owned them. The dealer had dropped them on the street near the exchange while taking them to the polishing factory, he told the Israel Diamond Institute’s in-house publication.
But the bag was found by a young diamond dealer from nearby Bnei Brak, who noticed a bag full of diamonds lying on the ground. The young dealer handed the bag over to the Diamond Exchange’s legal division.
“I wasn’t tempted for a moment to take it. I was brought up to believe that we don’t touch anything that isn’t ours,” he said. “Moreover, the rules of the Diamond Exchange require us to behave with integrity and to return a lost item.”
When the veteran dealer reported the loss, he was astounded to learn that his bag was in the process of being returned.
“I can’t believe that there are people like that; I was pleasantly surprised,” said the dealer, who gave the man who found it some reward money.
Israeli women set hair-razing record
Some 250 women in Jerusalem set a Guinness World Record for donating the most hair to make wigs for cancer patients in a single drive.
The record was broken in November at a hair salon in Jerusalem’s Malcha Mall after five hours, when the Zichron Menachem Cancer Support Center collected 117 pounds of hair. The drive continued for three days at 200 salons throughout the country. The haircuts were free.
Several of the women who donated their hair were cancer survivors and their family and friends.
The previous record was 107 pounds.
Don’t let her go to the dogs
A couple who abandoned a Doberman has been ordered by an Israeli court to pay for her care, including putting money aside for possible future medical problems.
“Pets have a special status in Israel’s law books and are not considered mere objects,” Judge Lior Bringer of Eilat wrote in his decision, according to Haaretz. “Their owners have a responsibility to protect and maintain them, and to care for their needs.”
The decision is a landmark for Israel, according to attorney Guy Nussan Hanegbi, legal adviser for the Let Animals Live organization, which sued the dog’s owners for neglect.
Earlier this year, a Haifa court sentenced someone to 150 hours of community service for abandoning his dog.
Some 50,000 dogs are abandoned in Israel annually, according to the country’s Agricultural Ministry.
When Big Brother meets big ideas
For Israelis addicted to reality TV, it was bad news.
Israel’s Second Authority for Television and Radio is limiting reality TV to seven hours per week, according to a new policy paper released by the authority, which supervises commercial broadcasting in Israel.
The policy will cover Israeli channels 2 and 10 and will represent a three-hour cut in the number of reality programs currently airing. For every hour of reality programming, including singing competitions and other programs featuring non-actors, the channel will have to air “quality television” in prime time, according to the policy.
The Israeli shows that currently carry the highest ratings are “The Next Star,” a singing competition, and Israel’s version of “X Factor,” a talent competition.
Channels once were limited to broadcasting six hours of reality or entertainment television per week, but that was raised to 10 hours in 2011 by the Second Authority’s council.
No more lighting up during combat
Israeli soldiers are going to have to find new ways to de-stress while serving their country. The Israel Defense Forces has canceled an order that requires soldiers to be provided with cigarettes and matches during times of emergency.
The IDF said the order does not adhere to the military’s current drive to promote healthy lifestyles among soldiers.
Smoking has been banned indoors at IDF facilities for the last five years. Army canteens will continue to sell cigarettes, however.
Parents: Snack food commercial promotes bad behavior
A TV commercial for the popular children’s peanut-flavored snack Shoosh has been banned from the airwaves before 8 p.m. for encouraging bad behavior.
In the commercial, a 3-year-old boy dressed in jeans and a plaid, button-down shirt stands in front of the mirror and does his best Robert De Niro impression: “You aren’t the boss of me…YOU aren’t the boss of me … You PEOPLE aren’t the boss of me! Only I’M the boss of me!”
After the ad aired, parents called to complain that it was encouraging their children to defy their parents, Haaretz reported.
Israeli doctors and Wikipedia
Budding Israeli doctors are taking their cases to Wikipedia. A new course at Tel Aviv University called “Wiki-Medicine: The Wonderful World of Wiki and Free Medical Information in Hebrew Wikipedia” will teach medical students how to write and edit entries in Hebrew and English.
The course also will teach students how to write and edit reliable entries on the online encyclopedia and about how to protect their intellectual property rights.
It is the first time, Haaretz reported, that an Israeli academic institution is offering a course dedicated to writing Wikipedia entries.