The policeman caught me slowing down at a Stop sign rather than stopping completely. I admitted my guilt. I couldn’t see oncoming traffic if I stopped at the sign, so I drove slowly to a point where I could see that the coast was clear and forged ahead, straight into the hands of a tall serious cop. This happened at the exit to the moshav where I live, a block from my house.
But while the cop was taking his time writing out my ticket, I also caught him.
“Get out of here,” he yelled at an Arab driver. “Go home. I never want to see you here again.” This was pretty much the way I felt towards the cop. The Arab driver responded by explaining that he lived in Shuafat and wanted to get to Zur Hadassah. (There is a dirt road on the other side of the moshav that cuts his driving time by 10-15 minutes.)
To understand this scene, one needs to know something about the peculiar geography of Jerusalem. The Shuafat Refugee Camp is within the Jerusalem Municipal Boundary Line, BUT it is on the other side of the Separation Fence. So where, exactly, does this Arab driver live? Does he have rights to go anywhere in Israel, as do Palestinian Arabs who live in Jerusalem inside the Separation Fence? Apparently not, even though he is a citizen of Jerusalem. I don’t know whose side the law was on, but I do know that in addition to being pissed about getting a ticket a block from my house, I was also upset that the moshav where I live is preventing certain Jerusalemites from driving through. This is what should be stopped.
My personal opinion of the police in Israel would be slanderous, but I have to defend the actions of one
policeman who enforced the law. If every person who ran through a stop sign, or committed a minor infraction of the law, were ticketed and hauled into court, the traffic death toll would be cut in half within a year or so.
As the father of Jack London said a century plus ago, the certainty of punishement is a much greater
deterrent than the severity of punishment. In other words, if EVERY person who ran through a stop sign was forced to listen to a ten minute lecture, such violations would stop. And if one in 10,000 persons was caught and fined NIS 1,000, they would continue, for nearly each and every person in the 10,000 believes he wouldn’t be caught.
I must grade your behavior as “F”.
All the best, Macabee Dean, email@example.com
Dear Macabee, This is my first F. I’ve learned my lesson, believe me. I always stop at Stop signs, but this particular one I treated as a Yield sign. No more. I wonder what grade you would give the cop for kicking the Palestinian worker out of the moshav. I wanted to protest at the time, but in truth, I was afraid the cop would pin something else on me. I left the scene feeling very guilty – for not stopping at the sign and for not speaking up for the worker.
Judy, first – congratulations on this new blog!
About your two issues with the cop: Re stop signs, my Dad taught me to drive (back in Chicago in the early 60s) exactly as you did – and thus I failed my first driver’s test. The cop beside me explained that the law says “full stop” at the stop sign, regardless of visibility – then ease forward to where you can see, etc. Guess the law is the same in Israel.
About the Arab crossing through through your moshav as a short cut – if everyone is else is permitted, why not him? (Maybe I’m ignorant, but if someone is driving within the security fence lines – no matter where he lives – shouldn’t he be permitted to continue driving anywhere in Israel like everyon else? )
That’s what I thought too, Susan, until I heard this cop yell Get out and Stay out.