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Offbeat Israel: This Purim, a Monkey Costume Would Be Unwise

Oh dear. Two monkeys have escaped from Jerusalem’s Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, better known as the Biblical Zoo — the same zoo at which Rabbi Marc, an Asian lion, resides.

The monkeys broke free yesterday morning, and at time of writing one has been found but the other is still on the loose.

It’s hard to imagine worse timing. In a few hours, a large part of the Israeli population will be changing in to fancy dress outfits for the festival of Purim. And in recent years, highly realistic animal outfits have become all the range. Let’s hope the zoo staff doesn’t cage in some unsuspecting monkey-outfitted party-goer while complimenting the real monkey on his fancy dress and wishing him a Happy Purim.

Staying on the subject of Purim, pamphlets with a plea not to dress up as “Zionists” have been distributed across the country.

They come from the avowedly anti-Zionist religious sect Neturei Karta, which is concerned about the penchant of ultra-Orthodox children for dressing up as soldiers and policemen, and in doing so wearing “impure symbols” of State of Israel.

The pamphlet, titled “On Purim I Do Not Wear Zionist Outfits,” says that Purim does not provide and excuse to wear “clothes of those who serve the heretical monstrosity that descended from Israel.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker, is in Gaza with a group of 60 female activists, who went to highlight the devastation as a result of Israel’s recent campaign there. They are on a trip is organized by the American anti-war group Code Pink. The women hope to pressure Israel and Egypt to open borders.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Walker had a strong message for Americans. “It’s very important that they understand what is happening, and that we hold our own administration accountable,” she said.

The global economic crisis has, believe it or not, led many Israelis to put their faith in none other than the Pope.

It’s not that there’s a sudden craze for Catholicism, but rather an expectation that the Pope’s May visit could be the answer to the tourist industry’s prayers as the security situation and the economic crisis take their toll on visitor numbers. See this article in Haaretz about the $60 million his visit is expected to generate.


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