Israel Stories

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Checkpoint Charlie

The traffic had built up along the 443 towards the Jerusalem. The reason was a second security check. They were looking for somebody. The boarder guards checked each and every car before letting them travel another kilometer to the official check point. In this day and age it is of course a sad reality that these checks are necessary, but you accept them because they could potentially be the difference between life and death.

I say accept them, because that’s what we should be doing, unless you are some loud mouthed American tourist who doesn’t realize what the purpose of these checks are for.

The traffic had come to standstill. So I did what any self respecting Israeli does and left my car to go and chat with a group standing by the central reservation. See if we could find out why there was this particular check and what we should do about the ‘matzav’.

And then the voice of calm and reason (sarcasm) blurted out from a nearby hire car. “I’ve got a wedding, why are we stuck, don’t they realize that I am going to be late.”

Well, we ignored the ranting and carried on our conversation, this time about school and what we were doing with our kids the week before Pesach which they had as holiday.

Then the delicately measured words of Mr Hire Car thundered out again, “if this country cant sort out its security maybe they should take a lesson from the Americans!”

If I hadn’t heard that with my own ears I would never have believed anybody could have said that. Was this worthy of an answer. Well we thought it better to ignore him than to enter into a debate about Iraq et al.

Then the comment that broke the camels back. “If they just expelled the Arabs ordinary folk like us wouldn’t be subject to the degradation of army checks and we wouldn’t be made to be late because some sub-humans are firing rockets and blowing themselves up”.

I am proud of the fact that I am not left wing, I have my own private views on how the country should deal with the situation, but my own personal philosophy is that instead of complaining, try and make a difference.

Before you say ethnic cleansing a mob had descended on Mr Hire Car. At first they started shouting at him, shouting obscenities and rocking his car a little. Realizing he may have overstepped the mark he locked the doors of his car and rolled up his windows. His wife who had thus far remained quietly supportive, started screaming.

The traffic started edging forward and we returned to our cars. The traffic stopped again and so I left my car only to see that my group had reformed and I noticed a great deal of laughing.

Now I have seen some surreal things in my life but this was just plain weird. On one side was a car load of Arab kids blasting out some very load Arabic dance music and on the other side was a woman using a breast pump. In the middle, eyes straight forward and looking very bewildered was Mr Hire Car. In front of him, just to add some variety was a large trailer with some sort of tank on the back, the canon facing Mr Hire Car’s windshield.

But I suppose that just about sums up the madness of the ‘matzav’.

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