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
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.