4th letter from Tel Aviv-All about partial enforcement

Today is the first day that one cannot stray more than 330 feet, or 100 meters from your home.

Of course, let’s not quibble. Israel is known for its lack of enforcement; our society’s bark is much louder than its bite. So I was not surprised when I discovered on my daily walk that the enforcement of this law is, well let’s say, somewhat partial. More or like the way cops relate to the smell of grass in a Tel Aviv cafe.

In Israel, it is not infrequent to argue with the police about a traffic violation, ask for compassion from a parking meter maid, or knock on the window of your bank after it’s closed because of a delay due to a traffic jam; the only thing that Netanyahu neglected more than health was public transportation. Nothing is enforced to the letter of the law. 0.

Rules are not made to be broken; rather they are mean to be bent. Almost any rule can be bent. Just the other day, I got my monthly medications (not too many), and asked for 2 months supply. During the virus outbreak, this is not permitted. “No”, said the pharmacist. I know this pharmacist well. She is an Arab Israeli with a severe medical condition. I asked her in Arabic how she was feeling; I got an answer, and another month’s supply. This type of occurrence is very common.

Why is there so much lack of enforcement? I do not all the answers, but I can name a few. Life here is not easy: regional violence, extreme heat, bad traffic, piss-poor government and doing simple things is often difficult. So people give one another a break. (One example of the difficulty of doing simple things is a yearly road-readiness car test often done by a corrupt garage, which takes a good half day.)

Furthermore, only the veneer of our society is western, Israel is much more like China or Thailand-it is based on relationships. That includes showing other people that “we know that the system does not work, so I am helping you”. Everything, everything is done here via relationships. So doing a favour is garnering credit.

Finally, historically Jews have not ruled themselves until very recently, With Netanyahu’s performance, it is fair to ask if this is still not the case. At any rate, “the system” belongs to someone else, as it were. So it can be toyed with.

And finally, there is our culture of constant bargaining. Can 100 meters become 150? No? Ok-140, in 3 payments.

 

PS This having been said, Israel does enforce tax collection very, very well,

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