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Vampires, Imprisoned Princesses, and Other Mideast Oddities

February 8, 2015 | by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller

Fact is stranger than fiction. Here’s a guide to some notable recent occurrences in the Middle East featuring some fantastical events.


1. Archeologists recently discovered the secret dungeons used to hold Vlad the Impaler – the 15th century prince who reputedly killed 80,000 people and was the inspiration for the 1897 novel Count Dracula. Where was Vlad’s dungeon unearthed?

  1. Romania
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Turkey

Answer: C. The secret dungeons that held Vlad the Impaler were discovered during renovation of Turkey’s Tokat castle. Archeologists describe the castle as “completely surrounded by tunnels” and “very mysterious”.

2. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, called the UN Human Rights Council’s appointed of William Schabas to investigate alleged war crimes by Israel like “choosing Count Dracula to run a blood bank.” Schabas resigned on February 2, 2014, but refused to apologize for which of these remarks?

  1. “I don’t have a problem with one-sided justice” when it comes to Israel.
  2. “Maybe Hamas didn’t behave properly” (in response to Hamas’ launch of thousands of mortars and rockets into civilian population centers in Israel.)
  3. “There is nothing unprecedented about calling for the destruction or elimination of a State… These are political views…they have a right to be expressed” (in answer to Iranian calls to “wipe Israel off the map”).

Answer: A, B and C.

Imprisoned Princesses

3. Romanian Princess Irina Walker, the daughter of former Romanian King Michael I, escaped jail time, but was sentenced to three years probation by a US court in October 2014, for which offense?

  1. Sedition
  2. Cockfighting
  3. Shoplifting

Answer: B. The princess, who lives with her American husband in a triple-wide trailer in rural Oregon, was found guilty of organizing cockfights in her barn.

4. When King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died last month, world leaders flocked to his state funeral; little attention was paid to his daughters, Princess Hala, Princess Saha, Princess Jawaha, and Princess Maha. What have these princesses requested for years – unsuccessfully?

  1. To be released from the royal palace.
  2. To be allowed to appear in public without face veils.
  3. To drive, in violation of their country’s strict laws banning women behind the wheel.

Answer: A. It’s thought the princesses were imprisoned after they complained to their father about poor prison and social conditions in the kingdom. 

5. Gulnora Karimova – glamorous daughter of Uzbeki President Islam Karimov, Harvard graduate, fashion model and senior official in Uzbekistan - used to be known as the “Uzbek Princess”. Where is she now?

  1. Speaker of Uzbekistan’s Parliament, being groomed to succeed her father.
  2. Jail, after her father deemed her too popular.
  3. Pursuing a modeling career in Italy.

Answer: B.


6. What problem did coffee giant Starbucks face in expanding into the Middle East?

  1. It’s logo of a mermaid is female, and so is banned in Saudi Arabia.
  2. An Egyptian cleric claimed its mermaid logo depicted Queen Esther – “the queen of the Jews”
  3. Despite not having any locations in Israel, Howard Shultz’s, Starbuck’s Jewish CEO and President, was said to financially back the Jewish state.

Answer: A, B and C.

7. Which Israeli offered $1 million in 2013 to anyone who could prove a mermaid exists?

  1. Shmuel Siso, mayor of the Israeli seaside town Kiryat Yam
  2. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  3. Member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi of the Arab Balad party, whose rhetoric against the Jewish state in whose parliament she serves has often been inflammatory

Answer: A. Mayor Siso issued the reward after numerous Kiryat Yam residents reported having seen what they believed were mermaids. To date, nobody has claimed the reward.


8. An estimated 540 of what fly over Israel each year, watched by hundreds of thousands of Israelis?

  1. Bird species
  2. Spy satellites
  3. Drones

Answer: A. Despite its small size, Israel experiences a “bottleneck” in bird migration, as hundreds of species migrate over its territory each year. Israel sees approximately 540 species of birds each year. Germany, for example, despite being twenty times Israel’s size, is host to 460 bird species.

9. What has put Israeli Flying Aid in the news recently?

  1. Launching Israel’s first civilian-constructed telecoms satellite
  2. Film star Natalie Portman joining Israeli teens in sending humanitarian aid to Syria
  3. Teaching the thousandth Israeli how to fly a two-seater plane

Answer: B. Israel Flying Aid, which helps Israelis contribute humanitarian aid to countries that refuse to have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, was recognized in 2014 by Israel’s Knesset for its role in coordinating aid to Syrian refugees.


10. An Israeli barber invented what in early 2015 to help prevent Jews from anti-Semitic attacks?

  1. Hair clips that can double as swords
  2. An invisible yarmulke
  3. Panic buttons that can be concealed in one’s hair

Answer: B. Israeli barber Shalom Koresh invented a “magic kippah” made out of human hair, allowing Jewish men to cover their heads without attracting attention from anti-Semites.

11. Disaffected youth in Paris blamed the Charlie Hebdo attacks on what malevolent force, according to reporters after the attacks?

  1. “Shape-shifting Jews”
  2. Israeli agents disguised as French policemen
  3. French soldiers disguised as ISIS terrorists

Answer: A.

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