‘Not my fault, not my responsibility’

"There were countless announcements before the storm came, is it so different preparing for a military siege than a natural disaster?"

By
December 18, 2013 11:55
2 minute read.
Pedestrians in the snow in Jerusalem.

Pedestrians in the snow in Jerusalem 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

When my power went out Friday at noon, my first reaction was anger because I had no hopes that my frustrations, and even dangerous situation, would be heeded in any compassionate way, by anybody. Without even first trying to ask, I just assumed that any authoritative figure would handle my situation with the same attitude it handles everything, “Not my fault, not my responsibility.” This is despite being behind a customer service desk.

So now that the snow has stopped falling, and people are wrongly trying to clear it with water, it’s time to assess the situation. It’s not so much that Jerusalem handled the storm poorly, my electricity went on again that night, with only a couple of plows the city did what it could to clear roads; but everyone expected this classic Israeli response of “don’t look at me because I didn’t do it, therefore I don’t need to help.” We were waiting with pitchforks because we’re so used to it. In fact, if people want to protest something, they need to protest their own stupidity.

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Take, for example, a young couple that got stuck in Jerusalem, a pregnant woman and her partner who were charitably housed, blanketed and fed before she went into labor during the height of the storm. It’s a story that warms the heart, of community coming together in a time of need to provide help to the stranded. But what about why that young couple was in the capital in the first place, because they knowingly and deliberately drove into Jerusalem to see the snow, then they get stuck, then they exacerbate the problem of those that actually need help, taking up a warm couch and hot food when they could have stayed in their seaside community; keeping themselves out of danger and protecting the life of their unborn child? But yes, let’s blame the government for not clearing the roads quickly enough.

I think my immediate reaction of government bashing and city hating as the storm hit is really just a reflection of my internalization of the Israeli personality – everyone is out to get me, therefore I need not take responsibility for my own failings. Both sides are a bit unfounded. Yes, I’m curious as to where the salt that Mayor Nir Barkat so happily touted has actually been dispersed, but I’m also really shocked that out of a country of army veterans and avid campers and hikers, there weren’t more people out shoveling snow with more than a squeegee or keeping warm with their portable propane stoves.

So how about starting to take responsibility for that little area we call our home, shovel our sidewalks, clear a path; for God’s sake don’t melt snow with water, and put down some salt. There were countless announcements before the storm came. Is it so different preparing for a military siege than a natural disaster? Both seem pretty non-discriminatory. Buy supplies, buy food, and be thankful that we’re not in Syrian refugee camps where there really are problems. I think a big thank-you goes out to all the volunteers that went to Binyenei Ha’uma to help disperse the stranded, for those who offered up their homes, their electricity, their food and their four-wheel-drive vehicles. To the army and ambulance services that have been working to reach the elderly, disabled and cut off; and even to the electric company. My electricity was eventually turned on without having to ask anyone, so I can’t really complain.


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