Yuval Krausz
Yuval Krausz

A recent visit to my Israel

Please don’t be angry. There is anger enough to go around for many generations yet to come. What is needed is not anger but change, and that change can and will come with grassroots action and community organization.

There are beautiful playgrounds in Be’er Sheva. My wife and I traveled there from Zichron Ya’akov to be with my daughter, her husband, our granddaughter and our brand new baby grandson. It was a beautiful day. My daughter had just moved to a new neighborhood in Be’er Sheva, and a relatively new apartment.  I was very much impressed by the beauty of the buildings, the design of the neighborhood and in general the growth of Be’er Sheva.

I remember Be’er Sheva as a small and forsaken little town. I remember that the main attraction was the weekly flea market and the adjacent Bedouin market.

Things have certainly changed. Two of my three daughters attended Ben Gurion University and both graduated with Bachelor’s degrees.  One of my daughters went on to earn a Master’s degree there.

So I am totally impressed with Be’er Sheva, and on another trip there I even took a detour.  The Waze App warned of congestion and serious delays on Highway 6 south of Kiryat Gat.  We took a detour through Adurayim.  I was amazed at the great number of vineyards in the area.

The road took us along the back entrances to Shomriyah and then on towards the back entrance to Be’er Sheva.

On our first trip we arrived early enough to take our granddaughter to the nearby playground.  My daughter, my granddaughter and I walked a short distance to a new playground.  It was around ten thirty in the morning.  It was beginning to get warm.  There was no shade over the entire playground.  The see-saw and the other “rides” were getting too hot for my granddaughter to enjoy.  There was no shade!

We returned to my daughter’s apartment and along the way we discussed the issue of there being no shade on any of the playgrounds in many, if not all of the playgrounds in Be’er Sheva. I told my daughter that near our apartment in Zichron Ya’akov, all of the playgrounds were covered with sturdy shade construction. No matter the time of day, the children could play outside to their heart’s content. They were shaded from the hot summer sun.

There was something else that struck me. Years ago, during the late ’70s, all through the ’80s and early ’90s I was a professional. I drove a huge rig. I had worked my way up through a series of trucks from an old Scania Vabis stake truck, to a Mack R600, which we converted to a “RAM-SA”, among the first in Israel. I operated a twin front steering axle MAN, added a trailer and finally I operated a Volvo twin front steering axle hauling the same trailer. I travelled the length of Israel. I travelled night and day. The roads were narrower, often simple two-lane “highways” with one lane going, the other coming.

And yet, there was a common courtesy. Bus drivers would wave at other bus drivers. RAM-SA operators would acknowledge others in similar fashion. If a driver ran into a problem on the highway another would soon stop to at least ask if a helping hand could be extended.

Over the years I saw a steady deterioration of that culture of driver courtesy.  Steadily and sadly it became a culture of disrespect.  Drivers would cut others off.  Merging traffic became a dangerous and useless display of “machoism”.  Common courtesy went out the window.

I heard that statistically there were hundreds of traffic accidents in Israel, daily.  The terrible tragedy of some two thousand traffic deaths yearly seemed to have little if any effect on the general population let alone the government and its Ministry of Transportation.  Law enforcement was barely visible on this most recent trip of mine.

I realize the problem of too many vehicles and not enough road.  I question the driver education system however.  Would it not be prudent to create a nationwide driver education program that would be mandatory for all, regardless of having or not having (yet) a valid driver’s license?  Would it not be prudent to mandate that everyone driving attend these programs every year or face stiff monetary penalties?  Would it not be prudent to require anyone receiving a driver’s license to train in all weather conditions and all driving conditions using simulators similar to those used to train pilots?

On this recent visit to my Israel, the Israel I love and care about, my wife and I were almost involved in several potentially bad traffic accidents.  On our last visit, some seven months ago, and the same thing:  we were almost involved in several potentially bad traffic accidents.  Lack of courtesy, rage, and an attitude of “this road is mine, and mine alone” were common in the attitude of the drivers we encountered.

Driving is a privilege. Common courtesy and learning to share public roads must be taught.  Those who do not learn these important skills cannot be allowed to put everyone else at risk.

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides in Pennsylvania, USA.