Thursday, December 27, 2007

What we do

Originally posted March 19, 2001

It seems lately all my entries have been on the ride in to or from work...

There are still daily attacks, today there was a shooting and road closure in the 'Gush' area, one of the favored hotspots southwest of Jerusalem.

Over the weekend, Arabs tampered with electric lines and the settlement (and 2 others in our area) were without power for 4 hours.

I'm surprised no one has asked how the terrorists can tell the difference between an 'Israeli' car and a 'Palestinian' car.

Of course, some of you might have this biblical view of Israel, figuring most people live in tent cities and the camels outnumber the people. We all make our living harvesting the olive groves or date palms or by herding sheep and goat, sitting on a rocky hillside dressed in a voluminous robe and headcovering.

I have to say, back in '86 that was exactly what I expected to see on my first trip here to Israel. After all, most of what I had learned about Israel was in Bible study.

Anyway, back to the cars.

Israeli civilian cars (and those belonging to Arabs living in "Israel proper"), have yellow plates with black numbers. In one corner is a blue rectangle with a white Star of David and under the star, it says IL.

Israeli military cars have black plates with white numbers and a "tzadick", which is the first letter in the Hebrew acronym for the IDF, and government and police cars have red plates with white numbers, and a 'mem', the first letter in the Hebrew word for government.

Palestinian civilian cars have either green plates with white numbers, Arabic script in one corner over a P, or white plates with green numbers, Arabic script in one corner over a P.

Their police cars (since theoretically they aren't allowed have a military) have white plates with red numbers.

Well, this is all well and good during the daylight when sharp-eyed snipers, aided with binoculars can see some sort of identifying mark, but what happens when it's night, or before sunrise...

There are different signs Arab cars drive with. The latest is driving with both parking lights flashing. Two months ago it was driving with one directional blinking.

A mechanic friend of mine told me that during the last Intifada, the Arabs would drive with one headlight off. He said he got a lot of settlers coming to him to install a switch so they can disable one light, and turn it back on when they got in to the city so they wouldn't be ticketed.

There have been stories in the last few months about settlers driving with red and white kafiyahs wrapped around their head, others who drive with NO lights on, and there was a tragic story a few weeks ago of a father and his 8 year old child being killed when their car went careening in to the side of a hill. The bereaved mother/wife said her husband would speed because he was afraid of being hit with stones or bullets by Arabs.

Another friend of mine, who owns a mini-van, taped on large white masking tape to the front, back and sides of her car TV, so people on the road would think she was a journalist. I jokingly suggested that she get either the basin of a white plastic birdbath or use the cover to a white garbage pail and attach it somehow to the roof of her car so it would look like a dish. She thanked me with total sincerity and me what a good idea it was.

Yesterday's ride was with the guy who drives with his M16 out the window. This time, he also has on the dashboard a red crescent, facing out. I guess he hopes people would think he was an Arab taxi or something. The effect was ruined however with the fact that on the other side of the dashboard, was a sign (facing out) with the Israel Tourism Ministry, showing that the vehicle can be used for certified tours.

That's not to say an Arab wouldn't have that too...but...

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