Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The True Dangers of a General Strike in Israel

ג׳ לחודש האחד עשר תשע"ו

There is a joke among "preppers" and other survivalists...
Q: What do you call a power outage? 
A: Practice
If you do not get the joke, then I highly recommend that you read on.

A few weeks ago, a general strike was averted at the last minute. I checked the news in the morning, like everyone else, to check if buses were running, of if I would have to track down a cab, and then when I found one, probably have to fight over it with 10 other people.

But, it was averted. So, no big deal. Right?

Histadrut Chairman Avi Nissenkorn and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu)
(Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Guess again. The only things which were accomplished by this threat of a strike, real or orchestrated, had nothing to do with whether union workers were getting paid fairly or not.
The Finance Minister looked good, if not heroic, thus strengthening his political influence.

The union leader looked good, and maintains his seat of power, until he can position himself for an even better position in the future, perhaps in the private business sector.

And whether or not the workers actually got what they wanted in the deal, both the government and the union can say to their constituents, "Look at us. We sure showed them!"

But, most importantly, the masses have been reminded of their vulnerability, and dependence upon the establishment. 
I remember the general strike of תשנ"ז/1997, as if it was yesterday. I was living in Tel-Aviv at the time, and had only been in Israel for a few months. In fact, the strike ended up lasting for almost as much time as I had been in the country.

Although transportation services were still operating, government, banking, postal, and several other services were at a stand still. Garbage seemed to pile up over night, and then keep piling up. I do not know if you could possibly imagine the smell we had to endure. Needless to say, there were concerns over the health hazard of it all.

It also did not matter if you had money in the bank. It the Caspomat (ATM) ran out of cash, then you did not get any cash. Checks were useless, unless you went to cash them at a money changer for a higher than usual fee. The worldwide goal of a cash free economy had gotten a booster shot.

Fortunately, the religious accountants, knowing, and interested in adhering to, the halakhah (Torah law) necessitating the payment of employees on time, broke the picket line, went into work, and deposited salaries into people's accounts.

How about that? Predominantly secular Tel-Aviv was saved by Torah observant employees of its municipality. Who would have thought? Don't worry. Tel-Aviv residents have long since forgotten the event, assuming they even knew about this, in the first place.

Furthermore, bank managers also crossed the picket line, refilling the Caspomats with cash.

The dispute was eventually resolved, the general strike stopped, and everything went back to normal, right? Wrong.

Even though the general strike affecting the entire country stopped, the strike continued in Tel-Aviv, by its city employees. The trash still was not getting picked up, and continued to pile up.

But, then as you might have guessed, this dispute was also eventually resolved, and we all rejoiced, and proceeded to go back into denial of the situation. "Nah! That could never happen again!" Could it?

Now imagine this...

Truck drivers stop working. Or better yet, the Arabs we are so dependent on hold a general strike. It does not matter if there is enough food, if it does not get to you, and perhaps does not even get picked!

What would do you do? Are you prepared? Do you have cash on you? Will your cash even be accepted? If so, are you prepared for the inflation which will certainly ensue?

Do you have any food and water stored? What about an extra gas balloon, in order to cook your food? Do you know where to find free food? Do know which plants are edible?

Have you decided that I am just one of those "nuts," yet, you hear about on reality television shows?

Just stop and think about it, for a minute.

How many of you even thought about carrying pepper spray, knife, baseball bat, or any other weapon for that matter, five months ago? And now? Most of you have at least thought about it.

So far, here in Jerusalem, we have not been shut down by any snow storms, as in previous years. But, the winter is not over yet. Can you imagine that while there was a pile of snow outside, people were actually worried about their food going bad, because the power was down? The thought to store food in a a bucket of snow, never even occurred to them.

In a crisis, most people get injured, or even die, not because of the crisis itself, but from panic and lack of preparation.

Do the scenarios above seem too far-fetched for you? Do you really feel safe in your Katamon or Ramat Aviv bubbles?

After all, things have "calmed down," and the Prime Minister has promised to protect us. So, everything is A-Okay, right?

I guess that only time will tell.


Neshama said...

Life in Israel is tenuous, you're right about that. Most foods have a "shelf life", probably one year or so. While one can stock up, it only lasts so long then you have to replenish. Some of these strikes have a good purpose, others are just overinflated ego wars. Most people don't appreciate how Blessed we are. The world is raging all around us, but most politicians are very near sighted, basically concerned with only what's good for them. However there are many good solid Israelis with their head on straight. Sometimes it's the splinter in one's eye that prevents one from seeing the good all around us. To that we must be very grateful to HaShem for all the goodness we have in our lives. A positive outlook is healthier, and remembering Gam zu l'Tova should be on our tongue, instead of Lashon Harah!

Esser Agaroth said...



"Also for the good" is after the fact. As I am sure you will agree, this does not allow us to sit around and wait for a miracle.

We are required to do our histadluth.

The main target of this post was not people like you, but rather numbed out Jews in Israel, who prefer to stay that way.

Not thinking about using snow for food preservation is a good example. It's as if they don't want to see.

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