Oh, Jerusalem

Today is Inauguration Day in the US.  In Israel, it’s just an ordinary Friday.  We’re running our weekly errands and preparing ourselves for Shabbat or other weekend plans.

US voters in Israel tend to vote for the president on one issue and one issue alone: how will the next president relate to Israel.  It’s a variation on the punch line, “yes, but is it good for the Jews?”  This is understandable.  We human beings care about our immediate surroundings, our families, and our close friends.  If it doesn’t affect us personally, then it’s more of an “out there” issue and not an “in here” issue.

Israel, it turns out, has the same opinion.  I ran across a video from Mayor Nir Barkat asking citizens of Jerusalem to welcome President Donald Trump as a friend and to sign a letter supporting the decision to move the US embassy to the undivided capital of Israel, Jerusalem.  I’ve spoken to other Israelis and they agree with our mayor.  I don’t think this is a minority opinion.

(It’s 1 minute and subbed in English.)

As great as Trump may be for Israel, I feel that Israel may be a bit narrow in its view and possibly short-sighted.  Leaving peace negotiations aside and all the problems in the Middle East (yes, I can do that!), if a person is insulting the leadership of other countries, nominating a cabinet that seems to be unqualified for their positions, and is divisive in his own nation – is that person actually good for Israel?

I would have to research it more, but it seems similar to Israel being one of the few countries that had dealings with South Africa at the height of Apartheid when all other countries were boycotting South Africa.  The rationale was that Israel had so few friends in the world.  Is that the case today?  Many, many Israelis would say it absolutely is.

Well, I’m not a political analyst, so I don’t know what will happen.  It remains to be seen.

I still like our mayor – he’s done a lot of great things for Jerusalem – but since I’m already questioning him, I have another complaint.

I don’t drive in Israel.  I have a license, but I don’t enjoy the experience and I live in a place where parking is almost non-existent.  It’s a lifestyle choice.  But this week, I had an unbelievable experience in traffic.

MFA was driving and I’m glad she was and not me.  I don’t know if I could have handled it.  After lunch one day, we got into the car to drive the 5-10 minutes to my house.  We got on a main road and saw that it was clearly rush hour, but still, it was only about a mile, traffic should be moving, right?  Nope.

trafficThis is our route and the traffic situation as I write this post.

This main road runs under the walls of the Old City, so it’s impossible to turn off onto a side street – there are no side streets – so you are stuck.

On the way, in the opposite lane, we saw a guy violently pop his car up on a curb, leave his wife in the car, and forcibly pull another guy out of his van to let him know how much he disliked his driving.  That was tense.  Luckily, they got back into their cars and went on – whew, no fisticuffs.

We finally get to the left turn we need to take and MFA is careful not to block traffic in the intersection too much since we can’t quite get all the way into the next street.  Then we’re stuck there for a good long while.  We move about a foot in 10 or 15 minutes.

A young woman edges up close to us as if she wants to get into our lane.  This seems totally bizarre because there is no reason for her to get into our lane right here and she’s blocking cars behind her as well as merging traffic from the other side. People, including a bus driver, get out of their vehicles to yell at her and she just shrugs her shoulders at them.  Some – who are not blocked by her – are laughing because this girl clearly just doesn’t care at all.

The car in front of us moves a bit and MFA decides to be nice and let the girl in because it should loosen up all the traffic that she’s blocking.  And this girl, this crazy, crazy girl, cuts across the lane to MAKE A U-TURN!!!  She’s blocked by traffic going the other way that won’t let her in.  And at the same time, ANOTHER CRAZY GIRL taps the back of the first girl’s car and swerves around her TO ALSO MAKE A U-TURN!!!

In our car, we are both screaming.  WTF!!!

When we get to the end of the street we see that many of the problems here stem from double-parked tour buses and people blocking traffic as they try to get into the parking garage.  After we passed the last entrance to the parking garage, there was not a car in sight!  Nothing.  Completely clear roads.

I’m sure I should care about the US Embassy moving to Jerusalem, but to be honest, I think a bigger issue is this stupid traffic and selfish drivers.  Yeah, I probably seem to have narrow vision and may be short-sighted, but I’ll tell you what: When the sun is setting and the colors are changing on the gorgeous walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, I don’t want to feel murderous rage toward my fellow human beings who don’t care at all about anyone else around them.

No matter what Trump’s relationship with Israel is, he’s not going to fix traffic.

Dear Mr. Mayor, I know you need to have vision and see the big picture, but I’m too embarrassed about this traffic situation to want anyone to visit, much less move the embassy!!  Fix this first!!