With Iran gearing up to nuke Israel into oblivion, one would think that such news would raise a measure of panic, perhaps even a smidgen of ire among the Israeli population. But pay no mind to what you read in the news. No one is even talking about it. Forget about panicking, hardly an eyebrow is raised. Here, the people on the street are either bored with the entire subject or the more spiritual among us figure it’s all in God’s hands anyway, so why lose sleep over it.
Now, should one really wish to see genuine hardcore panic on the streets of Israel, just mention an impending snowfall and that’ll do it. Forget that we live under a constant barrage of existential threats. Enemies surrounding us on all borders armed to the teeth with state of the art ballistic, chemically tipped missiles? – No sweat. But the prediction of snow is forecast for the coming weekend and widespread panic has already begun. I am not exaggerating.
While on my weekly excursion to the Rami Levi supermarket the other day, I was met with extraordinarily long lines and frantic shoppers pushing and shoving their way through the aisles, desperation etched on their faces. One could argue that this was just another regular day at the market, but I swiftly detected that something was amiss from the overwhelming sense of foreboding that permeated the air. Shelves that stocked water bottles and canned goods were totally cleared out, not a slice of bread could be had and black marketers shooting furtive glances were auctioning off hot apple cider. I squeezed my way through a treacherous gridlock of shopping carts making haste toward the butcher at the back of the store and fell upon a torrent of overly hyper animated customers clamoring for service. At long last, I surged forward at the urging of those impelling me from behind, my body thrust mercilessly into the glass showcase of cut-up meat only to find that by the time it was my turn to order, there wasn’t a chicken left – not a wing nor gizzard. And then it hit me. Of course! The news this morning opened with a forecast for snow. That’s right, the flurry of commotion was due to a forecast for two and half centimeters of snow. In other words, a whopping one inch.
I couldn’t help but be caught up in the frenzy and scored a major coup grabbing the last flashlight. After nearly three hours, I finally made it out of the supermarket thankful to once again see blessed daylight. Passing a nearby shoe store on the way to my car, I noticed a sign advertising a special last minute deal before the “storm,” offering a 2 for 1 snow boot sale and there was a sudden text on my iphone from a major national book outlet to stock up on reading material before the weekend onslaught. Word has it that there was already a serious shortage of gloves and scarves from the Golan down to the Judean hills. I bumped into a friend on the street who informed me that Mt. Hermon would be closed due to the snow. “But isn’t that a ski resort?” I asked. She shrugged and rushed to her car fearing the one looming cloud above.
In the six years that I’ve been living in Israel, I’ve seen snow twice. The first year here, when the accumulation reached a soaring two inches, and last year when a “major snowstorm” amounted to nothing more than 15 minutes of fame. Nevertheless, a “snow-day” was officially declared, schools had closed, and the local kids rushed outside with their makeshift sleds to coast down what amounted to very bumpy hills with barely a hint of white fluff to cushion the ride. In each of these blizzards, as a precautionary measure, major arteries of roadways had been closed off to vehicles − due to the “snow.”
And so, it seems that once again, another perilous inch of snow is anticipated. As one might expect, earnest vigilance is imperative and mobilizing efforts are underway. Jerusalem City Hall has been gearing up with emergency crews ready to whip out the salt at a moment’s notice, as well as increasing the staff at emergency centers to man the influx of calls. All households are buttressing appliances with surge protectors and military helicopters are at their ready to search for stranded souls. An entire arsenal is prepared to battle the elements.
The big guns are out. We won’t be caught with our snow pants down. And I bet you thought the Iron Dome was for missiles.