Israelis baffled by riddle mania

THE riddler has really fooled them this time. All over Israel they are discussing him in shops and cafes; tuning in to him at work. Yesterday, again, thousands tried to telephone Dan Hamitzer, star of a radio quiz show, to answer his 'crazy star riddle' and claim the jackpot.

Callers are using blackmail, and pretending to be at death's door to get on the programme. Yesterday, Avi Goldstar drove all the way from the Golan Heights to present his solution at the Tel Aviv radio studio. But he too was wrong, and the prize money rose again to dollars 17,000 ( pounds 11,200) - breaking all known records.

But this national obsession is not about money. Mr Hamitzer believes he has tapped a goldmine of intellectual energy and competitive spirit. 'Every Israeli thinks he can solve every problem. He is not looking for buried treasure . . . He is doing it because he always thinks he knows the answer better than anyone else.'

This time, for 12 long weeks, they have all been wrong. 'Who is the crazy star who started with the Frenchwoman before she was bought, before the wars, and it all adds up to 238?' Callers have tried everyone from Napoleon to Mr Hamitzer.

Psychologists have been hauled in to ponder Israel's 'riddle mania'. One called it 'pure mental illness'. Another said people liked the distraction from war and politics. Israel Shahak, a leading radical, puts it all down to British influence. 'Riddles have always been an Israeli pastime, ever since the British brought their crosswords in the Mandate days.'

Mr Hamitzer says riddles simply appeal to the Jewish character. 'Everyone in this country thinks they can be a minister. They can rule the world. It is in their history. It is about tackling every kind of situation and seeing how they can get out of it best.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific