Tag Archives: Emek Refaim

“It’s okay, I’m Israeli”

2 Jan
Sparks

Sparks (Photo credit: PhotoGraham)

Late in July 2010 I arrived in Israel set to begin my first extended stay, a month at ulpan and then an entire school year of learning at the Pardes Institute. Almost immediately I became acquainted with a syndrome that I have affectionately dubbed, “Israeli Syndrome.”

Symptoms of said syndrome could include but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  1. Dismissing concerns for safety 
  2. Pushing when it gains only one spot in line
  3. Pushing when it gains no spots in line
  4. Challenging others decision making even when advice is not solicited
  5. Sandals
  6. Sandals in the winter
  7. Sandals in the winter with socks
  8. Claiming superior knowledge/ability simply as a virtue of being Israeli

Although I cannot accurately pinpoint my introduction to the syndrome, I can easily recall numerous incidents in which the syndrome, which sometimes is in remission, makes its appearance. For example, in my first Jerusalem apartment, an elevator was being installed in an existing building, complete with the requisite noise and fine dust that accompanies such projects. One afternoon, I hear the motor of a pneumatic hammer and the sound of concrete chunks hitting the basement floor. Peering through the peephole of my apartment door I see the man responsible for the racket. He is precariously perched on the stair railing, holding on to the landing above him with one hand, pneumatic hammer in the other, chipping away at chunks of rebar-enforced concrete. No mask for the dust, no harness to prevent a fall of three stories, no goggles, no hard hat, no gloves. It’s okay, he’s Israeli.

On a particularly crowded trip to the Kotel the assembled mass was exiting the plaza. Literally there was no place to move, not to the left, not to the right, not forward, and certainly not backward. A hand on my lower back pushed me forward. A man, of at least 70, was driving me forward into a woman of at least 80. I half turned my head in his direction and asked him to cease. Neither he nor I, nor anybody in the crowd could have exited sooner than the narrow exit would allow, no matter the amount of pushing. It’s okay, he’s Israeli.

The other day I was walking in the Emek Refaim area of Jerusalem. A man was working to repair a fence that faced the public thoroughfare. I cannot be entirely sure of the task that he was attempting to complete, but I am sure that it involved cutting existing welds and then welding the site of the cut, presumably for greater strength. Both processes create significant amount of sparks, sparks that might necessitate wearing specific clothing, eye protection, gloves, and moving flammable materials away to prevent ignition, all of which seem like common sense. This man did none of the above. Sparks were flying onto dry leaves, into the upholstered tailgate of his van, and in the direction of unsuspecting residents out for an afternoon walk. It’s okay though, he’s Israeli.

Sometimes I find myself becoming symptomatic, however I will never wear sandals with socks. If you have similar experiences, please feel free to share them in the comment box below.