By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
The response to the weather crisis – yes it was and in many ways still is a crisis – suggests that Israelis are good at improvisation but Israel is deficient in preparation.
Though the snow hasn’t yet melted, power hasn’t yet been restored to all households, Jerusalem and other places aren’t yet open to traffic, public transportation doesn’t yet function and schools and some universities are still closed, the recriminations have already begun. The bodies involved – the municipalities, the electric corporation, the police, the IDF and others – all blame each other for not having anticipated what had happened and not reacted properly once it happened as they go out of their way to praise their own organization and its people for courage and ingenuity.
For all I know, each may be right, because none of us ordinary folk is in a position to assess otherwise. What seems likely is that those who accuse each other in the guise of wanting to make sure that it won’t happen again have agendas of their own that may have little or nothing to do with the present situation.
The prime minister appropriately got involved. He issued orders that saving lives should be a priority and special attention must be given to the old and the infirm. Indeed, there have been relatively few casualties while more than 300 babies were born during the siege. Netanyahu also attended a partly televised meeting last night in which he praised all workers and wanted us to be sure that all’s well in the land.
Again, for all I know, he may be right. The new leader of the opposition Yitzhak Herzog issued a critical statement. Even if the points he raised are legitimate, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that he has his own political agenda. He may also argue that the task of the leader of the opposition is to oppose, not to applaud the prime minister.
If the underlying criticism about being strong in improvisation and weak in preparation is correct, it seems legitimate to ask if this applies to all things, not only to an unexpected snowfall. Thus, for example, do the opponents to the current negotiations with Iran really know that Israel can go it alone successfully, should it be necessary?
And are those who refuse to make compromises and sacrifices for the sake of peace with the Palestinians really certain that Israel has the wherewithal to live indefinitely with the present situation?
There’s much to suggest that Israel’s successes so far in most spheres of activity have been largely due to its ability to improvise and live with unforeseen events rather than its skills to plan. Is it reasonable to assume that this can continue indefinitely?
Those who say yes are likely to trust people in power as the latter ooze confidence in their determination to give the impression that they have things under control. Several of those in charge of the present crisis have given such an impression. They give cause for optimism even when things look bad now.
Or should we be suspicious of them all and be worried even if we can’t prevent bad things from happening or are unable to protect ourselves?
As soon as the snow has melted, the country will return to its daily grind. The complaints are likely to go to a commission of enquiry. Its findings, like the findings of so many previous commissions, will gather dust in some office rather than being acted upon. And our leaders will continue to tell us to trust them.