« End of an Era | Main | Me and my big mouth! »

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

No, it won't be OK!

Fasten your seat belts folks... this morning we wander into that uncharted territory located somewhere between the cultural norms within which I was raised and the rich tapestry of cultural attitudes which hold sway here in Israel.

Most of the time when I venture into this gray area it is to point out something that tickles my fancy, or in some way pleases me with its newness or ingeniousness.

Not this time.

Last week I was driving home from work around 7:30PM. As I drove through the south Hevron hills my headlights illuminated a small group of women hitchhikers waiting outside the front gate of a settlement called Karmel. It was bitter cold outside and had been raining intermittently, so of course I stopped to pick up as many of them as my car could hold.

As several of the women climbed quickly into the car, I took note of the general appearance of the new passengers without paying too much attention to the individuals.

Most were dressed in what is often referred to as ‘settler chic’, but which a good friend calls ‘the layered shmatte* look’. When done nicely, I find ‘settler chic’ to be quite attractive, in a bohemian sort of way. When done poorly (or overdone), it drifts over into ‘hippie bag lady’ territory.

I know... I’m being judgmental, but there it is.  Anyway, back to the story of my car full of hitchhikers.

Since moving here I have become much more of a stickler about all passengers in my car wearing seatbelts. Not only have studies shown that an unsecured passenger is particularly vulnerable to injury or death in an accident, but also such an unsecured body acts as a potentially lethal projectile to anyone else inside the car.

As if that weren’t enough to convince me, as the driver of the car I am also the one who would get a very expensive ticket if the police were to stop me and find anyone unbelted.

So, as the last of the group got into the car I made my usual reminder for everyone to put on seatbelts and checked my rear-view mirror to see if it was safe to pull back onto the road.

Geographically, if one is headed north on Route 60, Karmel is the last Jewish settlement before entering a long stretch of the road where there are only Arab villages. While I don’t find this stretch of my drive to be overly worrisome, I also don’t dawdle or stop anywhere on this stretch. Why tempt fate, right?

Well, as soon as we were approaching the first of the Arab villages I heard an odd sound from behind me: A baby crying!

As I said before, I didn’t look too closely at the women who had gotten into the car, but apparently, tucked somewhere in the folds of one woman’s ‘shmattes’, there was a baby!

Now I was pissed! I didn’t have a baby seat in the car and this idiot had put herself, her baby, and me in a very awkward (not to mention dangerous) situation.

If we were near a Jewish settlement I would have pulled over and let her out right away. But in a potentially hostile area I was faced with the unhappy choice of continuing on with an unsecured baby in the car, or turning back and wasting half an hour in order to return her and her baby to Karmel.

In the end I fumed in silence and dropped off the group in Kiryat Arba without a word.

I have related this incident to several Israeli friends, and have been shocked to find that nobody seems to view this the way I do. In fact, while most people I’ve asked agree that it is not safe to transport a baby without a car seat, they were very quick to suggest excuses for this dopey mother, such as:

Maybe she doesn’t have a car and therefore never bought a baby seat.

Perhaps she can’t afford a baby seat.

What if she has a baby seat but her husband has the car and she needed to take the baby somewhere.

Among the young, ‘new-age’ religious settler crowd, there seems to be a kind of blind optimism, above and beyond the typical Israeli ‘yihiyeh b’seder’ (loosely translated as ‘everything will be OK’) attitude.   The subtle subtext of this attitude seems to be that personal responsibility is no longer necessary because everything is in the hands of G-d.

I understand that this total trust in the Almighty (read: surrender of basic common sense/prudence) is a necessary personality trait for anyone who elects to raise a family in a trailer on one of these windswept hilltops amidst a gazillion angry Arabs. But where does one draw the line?  When does this blind faith that everything will be OK cross over into dragging others (e.g. me) into extremely serious safety/liability issues?

Since this incident I have noticed a few other cars on the road with unsecured infants on a parent’s laps. What the hell is going on here? Has everyone taken leave of their collective senses?!  Is this kind of thing happening in Tel Aviv???

Somebody please tell me that I’ve simply been unlucky enough to witness a few isolated examples of incredibly bad judgment, and not a trend towards the ultimate, reckless level of ‘yihiyeh b’seder’!

* Shmatte is a Yiddish word that literally means ‘rag’, but which can also be used to describe a dress or garment. It is rarely a compliment when used in the latter sense.


Posted by David Bogner on January 25, 2005 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference No, it won't be OK!:

» Buckle Up from An Unsealed Room
David hits on one of my pet peeves -- guess it's a cultural difference that none of us can deal with -- the cavalier attitude that many Israeli parents have toward carseats and seatbelts for their kids. I see it... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 27, 2005 7:45:14 PM


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon phenomenon in our neck of the woods. The overwhelming frequency of occurrences such as this is what prompted the Keren L'Pituach Efrat (local charitable organization) to commission me last year to design those posters showing kids ASKING to be buckled into their seats!

It infuriates me as well. I don't understand this aspect of (general) Israeli society. Neither do I understand other aspects of road behavior -- how is it possible that road accidents still account for most Israeli deaths? Traffic related death is perhaps the most wasteful kind of death -- because it really is so preventable....

Posted by: zahava | Jan 25, 2005 11:59:44 AM

Sorry, David. It's as common here just north of Tel Aviv as it is in your neighborhood.

We live sandwiched smack between a number of nursery schools, city-operated kindergartens and right around the corner from an elementary school. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen young kids bouncing around the back seat of cars sans seatbelt, or being held on their parents' lap (I assume it's their parents) EVEN WHEN THE PARENT IS THE DRIVER! It just makes me want to run over to the car and smack that parent right upside their empty head.

(sorry, but this subject just ignites me)

Posted by: jennifer | Jan 25, 2005 12:16:08 PM

I don't get it. She should have told you she had a baby and asked if it were all right. It was rude, that's all. That's how I see it...

Posted by: Hatshepsut | Jan 25, 2005 12:55:19 PM

It angers me, too, because she was not only endangering the baby but also anyone sitting in front of the baby.

I don't have much to add, but want to share that a good friend here in Jerusalem, with 3 kids, no longer participates in carpool situations to/from school, because she is the ONLY mom who makes all the kids wear seat belts.

This, the littering, and the smoking make me really, really mad about Israeli culture. What our enemies have failed to do, we are doing to ourselves. It makes me hopping mad!

Posted by: Sarah | Jan 25, 2005 1:06:42 PM

At least the one with the baby got into the back seat! Like Jennifer said, I've seen adults with their wee ones in the front, bouncing about freely, and have almost acted on the same head-smacking urge she described. I haven't noticed any angelic figures in white standing on the runners offering them protection, though I assume the driver believes that they are there. Zahava's comment regarding the neverending traffic-death statistic is just another symptom of a people too weary of their problems to actually solve them properly. Considering everything, maybe the only way to save life and limb here is to force every vehicle to pass through an engine-limiting inspection where the car is re-engineered to go no more than 80KPH. Things would move a bit slower, but the population would benefit from less death, less disability, and less bodies taking up hospital beds (note today's news that due to the flu the hospitals are overstuffed and people's non-emergency surgeries have to be postponed).

On the bright side, it's a sunny Tu-Bishvat, go plant something!

Posted by: yonah | Jan 25, 2005 1:12:42 PM

Zahava... I'd forgotten about that poster you designed. You know what... I want a stack of them to keep in the car so I can hand them out to idiots.

Jennifer... If I had any hair to spare I'd be pulling it out in big handfuls!

Hatshepsut... Thanks for the giggle, I needed that! Israelis... rude... good one! :-)

Sarah... Please don't get me started about the smoking in malls and other 'prohibited' places. I've written and deleted about 10 journal entries on the subject. I just can't seem to approach the topic with anything like objectivity.

Yonah... Is it just me or is the rage I feel as much about the indifference as it is about the danger?

Posted by: David | Jan 25, 2005 1:21:18 PM

Can't speak for Yonah, but for me -- YES! the rage is as much about the indifference as it is about the danger!!!

I used to feel the same way (in the States) about the soccer Moms in the gas-guzzling SUVs, driving one-handed so they could obliviously chat away on their cell phones.... Their cars are big and sturdy -- let's face it, the injured party(ies) is(are) gonna be in the fuel-efficient sub-compact(s) next to them.... The anger stems from the fact that even if they are indifferent to their own potential danger, I deeply resent them being so D@MNED indifferent to the safety of everyone else around them!

BTW, I only got sample of each of the 2 posters.... sorry! :-(

Posted by: zahava | Jan 25, 2005 2:58:28 PM

Well, better in your car than in the bitter cold? If it was bitter cold and they had to go from point A to point B, maybe it was better for that baby to be transported in your car than out in the weather. But still, gotta wonder about taking a baby out into the bitter cold to hitch a ride...

I agree about car-seats - they are vital. And personally, I'm concerned more about young women driving while applying makeup in the mornings (see it quite often here) than soccer moms in SUV's with a cell phone.

Posted by: Steve Bogner | Jan 25, 2005 3:16:57 PM

Zahava... I'll take some home printed ones. I'm thinking that if someone can't muster enough interest in maybe saving their own kid's life, they aren't going to stop to criticize the color saturation on the 'reminder' I shove in their face.

Steve... Unfortunately that is exacty the kind of logic I get from people when I voice my outrage on this issue. They say things like, "Well, the baby was cold and wet so it was OK to get into a car in order to warm up." Um, no! Let's back up a little while to the point where the mom was preparing to leave her nice warm, dry home and hitchike in the cold/rain with a baby but no car seat!!! I see from your follow-up statement that you understand this, but for some reason there is a basic disconnect with folks over here. [sigh]

Posted by: David | Jan 25, 2005 3:49:44 PM

I'm surprised...I was expecting your thoughts on Tu Bi'shvat. I spent the whole morning preparing to chip in on tree and environmental discussions. *pout* Now what am I going to say?

[disclaimer interlude: she is making a bad joke, okay. put back knives and flails, people.]

So you say it was intentional to get everyone out of the cold? That action doesn't speak for much intelligence. The fact that you spent the rest of the ride secretly steaming and boiling is so not Israeli, a.k.a. too friendly [or maybe...Israelis wouldn't even care]. No discussion? No yelling that woman? She'd have deserved it -- she and her fellow travelling friends in the know.

Are you going to have a yet closer look next time you pick up people? I mean -- any resolutions from this incidence?

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jan 25, 2005 4:12:38 PM

specifying phrse 1 & 2 -- so you say it was that woman's intention, to hide the baby to get everyone out of the cold fast?

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jan 25, 2005 4:14:28 PM

It a different culture--a different way of thinking. The whole situation won't change without major education. The posters are a start but it will take alot more. When I was a little kid living in England I remember riding in the back of the car without seatbelts--in fact, the back seat of the car had NO seatbelts. Cars did not come with them in the back. I remember jumping all over the place with my brothers. I also remember my mom holding my baby brother on her lap IN THE FRONT SEAT. It was not because my parents didn't care about us; in fact my Dad had been a male nurse and worked at the Birmingham accident hospital, so he knew what could happen. That was just how it was and no one thought twice about it. When we moved to Canada when I was in Grade 1 it all changed. In Canada it was law that you had to wear a seatbelt and I remember my Dad complaining about it. But not too long after coming to Canada we all wore our seatbelts. The first time I saw a car seat I thought it was strange. Now we would never dream of taking our baby anywhere without a car seat. I doubt this girl even thought twice about getting in your car with a baby, to her it is perfectly normal. The question is how to educate her so she knows the benefits of using a car seat and the risks of not using one. To us in Canada or the States it is unheard of. Put a sign in the back window of your car designed by Zahava that says: "All hitchikers must wear seat belts and babies must have car seats." Then give us a picture of it for photo Friday.

As for the kind of blind optimism and trust in God to the point of being crazy, that is exactly what I was like as a youngster snowboarding and stuntbiking and everything else. They will grow. At least they believe in God and are not into drugs or anything. When they grow up, I'm sure they will make fine members of society.

You reacted exactly as I would have. Angry silence. Then you thought what you should have done afterward. Treppenwitz.... the wisdom of the stairs....

Posted by: David B | Jan 25, 2005 5:21:53 PM

Re yihiyeh b’seder:Do you know the old joke about the woman in the flood? She's waiting on the roof of her house as the water rises, and a canoe comes by and they say "Get in!" But she says "No, G-d will save me," and refuses to join them. The water gets higher and now she's on the chimney. A helicopter finally comes and they say "Climb up!" But she says "No, G-d will save me," and they too must leave her. In the end, she drowns, and when she goes to heaven, she says "G-d, why didn't you save me?!" And He replies "I sent you a canoe and a helicopter, woman. What more did you want?"

Same goes for car seats. (And penicillin.)

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 25, 2005 5:38:25 PM

I had a thought. I put it here.


Nice story Dave.

Posted by: DovBear | Jan 25, 2005 6:14:02 PM

Irresponsible behavior is not limited to any one group.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 25, 2005 7:38:32 PM

mademoiselle a. ... I actually had a short journal entry written on Tu B'Shvat, but I have been so angry about this incident that I just couldn't sit on it anymore. Anyway, my Tu B'Shvat post was pretty weak... just a mention about my office passing out dried fruit baskets for the holiday. It was a nice touch considering most non-observant Jews in the US don't mark the holiday at all.

And no... I don't think she was intentionally hiding the baby from me (as the driver). I just didn't notice it.

DavidB... I too remember a time before seatbelts, but those days are far in the past. Israelis are well aware of the dangers involved, but many just don't seem to care enough.

The education idea is an important point. Years ago there was a big problem with people picking wildflowers to the point of none remaining for hikers to enjoy. The schools started a campaign of educating the children to tell their parents not to pick wild flowers. Today it is an ingrained part of the culture 'not to pick'. The key seems to be to start with the kids and hope it grows up with them.

Tanya... Good point. Car seats are very easy to get here. There are even 'gamachs' (cooperative pools of a particular kind of item) where people can borrow car seats for little or no money, in almost every community.

Dov Bear... interesting point, but I didn't mean to suggest that her trust in G-d is any greater than mine. What I was trying to say is that we can't place all responsibility for our safety in His hands... we have to take prudent measures to safeguard ourselves and our children.

As to the idea that settlers are somehow endangering the nation of Israel the way this woman was endangering her baby and the others in the car... We'll have to agree to disagree. I don't agree with some of the violent tactics of the more radical fringes of the settler movement. But I think the gesture of answering each terrorist attack / murder with a new hilltop settlement is a fairly 'soft' (non-violent) response. I would ask you to take a drive with me some time to the areas where these small settlements are before you make your final judgement of these people. They are no crowding out any Arabs or competing with them for any resources. These tiny settlements are in some of the most remote, deserted parts of the land. If you buy in to the idea that any part of the world needs to be Judenrein in order to appease another ethnic group then you have bought into the worst of the Arab myths.

My offer of a drive some Friday morning is a sincere one... we can continue the discussion then.

Jack... Too true... I was just commenting on the lunacy I've observed.

Posted by: David | Jan 25, 2005 9:15:48 PM

It's true in my Tel Aviv too. The usual Israeli indifference to or ignorance about danger on the roads is very stupid, and I am indignant that My Fellow Jews can be so dumb. The ironic twist, in Tel Aviv at least, is: people stop me from crossing the street when the light is red, regardless of whether there are any cars in sight. When I act surprised, they don't say, "It's dangerous." They say, "You could get a hundred-shekel ticket!"

Posted by: savtadotty | Jan 25, 2005 9:33:11 PM

Saftadotty... what a perfect analogy! Maybe if we can't appeal to the inherent danger of not buckling kids, then we can get the police to make the fine so stiff that people will comply out of financial fear. What a sad statement... but I'd take it if it would work.

Posted by: David | Jan 25, 2005 9:37:16 PM

I had a whole paragraph ranting about how the mother’s behavior is inexcusable because she snuck the baby in, but now I see that you may have simply not noticed the baby. Never mind.

The religious “I’m in G-d’s hands so I intend to ride my bicycle across a rope bridge while reciting Psalms when I could have taken a safer longer route” attitude makes me want to strangle people. It’s especially infuriating because it makes me look like a moron for being religious. Newsflash to frummies: The Holy One, Blessed Be He, will NOT change any of Newton’s laws the moment you lose control of your car and hit a tree. (That’s right, even though Newton wasn’t Jewish.) Though your cute boy is too young to have sinned and had his brit [ritual circumcision] by a respected and pious mohel, The Author of The Universe will not prevent him from going through your windshield and exsanguinating while your car, “We Want Moshiach Now” sticker and all, bursts into flame.

Is the Israeli attitude about car seats limited to religious Israelis, or not? I guess plenty of not-very-religious Israelis smoke, so maybe there’s something devil-may-care about the general culture.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 25, 2005 10:18:04 PM

David, I would have acted precisely as you had. Not having a baby in a baby seat is just anathema to me. You don't do it! But this is a US norm, obviously, and a new one at that. After all, when you and I were kids, there was no such thing as a car seat for kids.

But still ... if it's safer and not horribly expensive ... why don't people do it??

Posted by: Jim | Jan 25, 2005 10:24:58 PM

What I was trying to say is that we can't place all responsibility for our safety in His hands... we have to take prudent measures to safeguard ourselves and our children.

That is precisely my thought too. You may have led to another idea for my own post.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 25, 2005 11:02:41 PM

Doctor Bean... No, it would appear that this attitude crosses all political and religious boundaries over here. I just happen to have a better view of the religious right.

Jim... I ask myself every day why Israelis insist on passing on blind curves, knowing full well that this is the single biggest cause of road fatalities. For some reason they don't think it will happen to them. [bangs head against the wall]

Jack... I'll look forward (as always) to reading (or perhaps hearing) your post.

Posted by: David | Jan 25, 2005 11:36:50 PM

My offer of a drive some Friday morning is a sincere one... we can continue the discussion then.

I'll look you up when we are in Israel.

I don't argue that any area needs to be free of Jews, but I don't think there's any obligation to settle every inch of territory, not when the act of settling is a danger to Israel's international prestige, to its credibility and to the safety of the soldiers charged with protecting the settlement -- not to mention the young children dragged into dangerous locales by their fervrent parents.

The settlers trust that all will be well, that God will protect, that they and their children and thhe rest of Ierael is safe. The woman in the car made the same assumption. She gave no mind to the danger in which she was placing you, and her child because she was sure of God's protection.

You thought the woman was wrong. I think the settlers are wrong. But it is really the same thing...

Posted by: DovBear | Jan 26, 2005 2:22:52 AM

Jack... I'll look forward (as always) to reading (or perhaps hearing) your post.

Now that I know you occasionally listen, I may really have to sing. But be warned, my voice can clear out three counties.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 26, 2005 5:45:18 AM

As far as it being common -- I don't think Chareidi (Ultra-O), Dati L'Umi (Modern O) or Chilonim (Secular) have a monopoly on stupid. Although, the worst thing I ever saw was an Ethiopian woman, who had her baby (? - maybe a year or two old) wrapped to her with the robes they wear. She got into a sherut, but was very careful to sit forward enough that the child strapped to her back wouldn't be crushed. Until someone stopped suddenly. ~shudder~. On the other hand, this is the way America was not that long ago -- as someone else rightly pointed out, the only thing to do is start educating the younger generations (20-somethings), and hope it catches on soon.

As a side note, _way_ more Israelis are killed by fellow Israeli drivers than Arab terrorists. Something to think about. Sometimes I feel I'd rather walk in many area than drive in others...

Posted by: Mike | Jan 26, 2005 11:22:00 AM

Dov Bear... I waited a full day before responding because I didn't want to publish my initial reaction.

When I (or anyone) says, "we can continue the discussion then" that is not your cue to restate in stronger terms your original thesis... it is a subtle message that polite folks use to suggest to one another that a topic would best be saved for another time or place. I'm troubled that you didn't feel the need to respect my wishes. But since you insisted on plowing ahead with your opinion Iguess I can respond in kind.

1. Nobody said anything about settling every square inch. In fact, the very reason I suggested the drive was to show you what a crazy idea it is that Jewish settlements are somehow crowding out Arabs. The settlements tend to be off by themselves and are not built on stolen land.

2. Settling the land is not a danger to Israeli prestige abroad. Israel has no prestige abroad... except perhaps for it's stubborn refusal to allow itself to be destroyed. Israel has been vilified abroad during times of intensive settlement as well as when settlement activity was relatively stagnant. Draw your own conclusion.

3. I was not aware you lived outside of Israel. Anyone who voices the sort of opinions that you do belongs here... or should lower their voice/rhetoric. Just as I may have an opinion on abortion, I lack a uterus so I keep my damned mout shut on the issue. Until you leave Babylonia and move to Israel you can have all the opinions you want, but you will have no say. That was Ezra's policy... and it is the policy of the modern State of Israel. Deal with it. The most lefty, Tel Aviv living, settler bashing, self-hating, peace now supporter has my profound respect because he/she is here. I will respectfully discuss the issues with such a person any day of the week. You haven't earned the right to be so disrespectful to me.

4. Soldiers are endangered because terrorists want to kill Jews, not because of any particular political policy on the part of the government or the settlers. A soldier's life is in danger whether he is guarding the Tel Aviv bus station or the most remote outpost in yesha. Stop blaming the victim and refocus on the perp.

5. Your statment that "the settlers are wrong" is in direct conflict with the statement you made on your blog. If you can really see things that clearly in black and white than there is not much else to discuss.

Jack... I am not a prolific commenter, but you are one of my daily stops.

Mike... good points all.

Andy... I don't know if I agree with you, but I don't have 6 or 7 kids either. Somehow I'm worried that your argument suggests that larger families are allowed to be less careful with their children. I'm hoping this was not your point.

Posted by: David | Jan 26, 2005 7:48:52 PM

Back to the topic of the post...

I love "settler chic"... Oh but that wasn't it either....

When I was a kid growing up in the USA there were no seat belt laws. I can remember cuddling into the little footspace in front of the front passenger seat on family trips to the beach. It was the most coveted place because it was so cozy. Dangerous? Maybe, but there was noplace else to put us. And in those days, nobody considered it irresponsible.

I find the hyper-enforcement of the seat belt law in Israel quite annoying. Its the only thing you will ever get stopped for. You can tailgate within 2 meters at any speed you want and you will NEVER get ticketed for that. But you will almost definitely get stopped if you put four kids in the back seat.
It means that a family of 6 or more cannot go on a family trip in one car unless they own a space van! What about people who can't afford a space van?

What about taking the bus? There are no seat belts on busses. Is it irresponsible to take a bus? Is it irresponsible to take a child on a bus?

Yes. Wearing a seat belt is a good thing to do. But if there isn't room in the car, and the alternative is to leave someone out in the cold, or split up the family on trips to the beach, or buying a car that you can't afford, I say, lighten up and leave it up to the individual to take reasonable and affordable precautions.

David, you did the right thing by not saying anything. By giving that mother and her baby a lift you were taking them out of cold hostile enviornment, and bringing them closer to the safety and warmth of their homes!

Why you should uncomfortable about that is beyond me!

Posted by: Andy | Jan 26, 2005 8:54:02 PM

must ... exercise ... self ... control ...

must ... not ... stick ... nose ... into ... argument ...

David ... writes ... better ... than ... me ... Doesn't ... need ... my ... help ... Will ... inject ... self ... with ... Ativan ... 2 mg


Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 26, 2005 10:18:59 PM

OK, I have to admit it. I have... on occasion... since we moved to Israel... (we actually sat across the aisle from you on the plane)taken my children in the car without a carseat. Not because I am generally an irresponsible parent but because I was here and I needed to get there and this seemed like the best way to do it. Of course my car has car seats but you can't ALWAYS rely on your own car and if your option is to take a taxi (which does not require car seats) or a bus sometimes the ride seems so much easier.
As for the "yihiyeh b'seder" attitude, I have that attitude everytime I drive on a road where I could get shot, or take a bus or go to a cafe or do a million things in Israel that we all do every day. And once you defend your decision to "move to a war zone" enough times by saying that Hashem runs the world, I guess it starts to rub off a little bit.
As I said, I wouldn't make a practice of not using car seats but I do understand this woman who took the ride. Although I do think she should have told you she had a baby since you could get a big ticket and she has no right to subject you to that risk without your consent.

Posted by: Beth | Jan 26, 2005 10:20:38 PM

I don't think Dov Bear was being disrespectful. He was merely drawing the kind of disagreement you were having with him back to your original point.
And incidentally, your response about who gets to have the argument is something with which I also disagree. I have every right to tell you that the settlers are wrong, and that they are endangering the well being of Israel. what is not among my rights is to count my vote when you Israelis decide. I also think the indians are disingenuous when they speak of Pakistani provocations, and that Great Britian is making a mistake if it follows the politicians who want to pull out of the European Union.
I just don't get to decide any of these things.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jan 27, 2005 2:52:10 AM

Doctor Bean... Thank you for showing restraint, although I doubt anything I (or you) could say would change the behavior of certain people.

Beth... Hi there! What a nice surprise... glad you stopped by!!! Like I said, she wasn't hiding the baby from me, but she wasn't concerned about the baby's safety either. If a car seat wasn't on her agenda why would she think it was on mine? this is the attitude that got me steamed.

Jordan... As I said, Dov Bear has every right to voice his opinion, but he needs to do so with full knowledge that his opinion doesn't matter a wit. Also, when you throw a dinner party and gently try to steer one of your guests away from a topic that is likely to get 'ugly' and that guest plows on in spite of your polite request... well I think that 'guest' deserves a rebuke. The point of the post was not sttlement or even religion.... it was car seats and personal responsibility. The fact that not once but twice, Dov Bear decided to try and hijack the conversation for his own agenda demonstrates why he seems to constantly be getting into arguments with people.

Manners... that's all I'm saying.

Posted by: David | Jan 27, 2005 7:17:17 AM

Very interesting blog!

Posted by: Paul | Jan 27, 2005 5:07:02 PM

My husband is from Russia and no one there had car seats. Although, now that he is "American" (it will never happen) he is very careful to keep our kids in car seats long after they need to be. You should hear him yelling at other cars when kids are in the front seat or climbing around in the back.

Posted by: Yetta | Jan 27, 2005 6:46:09 PM

Hi all (I am not editing so incoherence is likely)
OK I live here in the holy land and Dave I found your reaction to Dov Bear a bit overly strong (although I can also picture that you pulled punches also).
I am not trying to one up anyone here but there is a definite correlation with lawlessness in all aspects of Israeli life.
By the way just a week ago a father and child were killed while the young son was on the fathers lap while he was driving - in Tel Aviv-Jafo.
But back to my original point there is a definite line that can be drawn along the history of the settler movement to the disregarding of the state, law, and consideration for the majority of the country.
I am generally not so blunt (and not as left as some of my friends) but one needs to look at the long term here.
I will not go into a long history (historiography?) lesson here.
I also do not include places like Efrat in this equation.
Back to the car (and the metaphor). By not speaking out - even at the end - you are condoning? - allowing? - i guess i need a thesaurus. If you don't want to be a part of it you must speak up (again the metaphor between the car and the rest is intentional with me - maybe not you).
I enjoy your blog - you write well. Where do you find the time for all of that. (On the other hand does Dov Bear have a job - how can anyone post that much).
Shabbat Shalom

Posted by: kobi | Jan 28, 2005 1:24:12 PM

Paul... Thanks, it's interesting for me as well.

Yetta... There is nobody as zealous as the newly religious. In this case the religion your husband has found is safety! :-)

Kobi... First of all, thank you for your thoughtful comment.

The father/son you mentioned were Arabs from Yaffo, so that sort of proves that this is a problem across all parts of the society here.

The Settler movement has no monopoly on not abiding by the law. The left has made heroes of those who would refuse to serve in the army (or on specific operations) because of matter of conscience. Why is the right not allowed to act (e.g. break the law) according to conscience? There is a thinly veiled bias in this contradiction.

Your point about not speaking out is an important one that I have not yet figured out. I don't know why I didn't yell at her (or at least give her a lecture). She deserved it and I would have felt better. I think that there is something culturally American about me that keeps me from being confrontational... even about matters where I feel strongly.

Finally, thank you for the compliment. I don't spend very much time writing... usually 15 - 30 minutes in the morning before everyone wakes up. The comments actually seem to be much more time-consuming (not that I'm complaining mind you). As to Dov Bear, I don't know the first thing about him... personally or professionally. And any interest I might have had is long gone. He is certainly prolific, but much of what he writes (on his blog and in the comments section of others) seems designed to elicit the worst sort of confrontations. I suppose everyone is allowed to garner attention for themselves in whatever way they wish. Just so he doesn't do it over here.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Posted by: David | Jan 28, 2005 1:44:35 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.