Tzvi Szajnbrum
To ease the immigration and absorption process for Olim

An ‘Unjust’ Case

It is just not fair!

How many times have we heard this sentence? How many times have we said it ourselves? We all have had our own experience with some unjustified event or consequence.

Life is not about fairness. Life is not about justice.” At most one can expect to have the law enforced but not receive justice. If you have two good eyes and I have only one eye, and I cause you to lose the vision in one of them; would it be fair to follow the edict “an eye for an eye? You would still have one eye but I would be blind!

When you suffer financial damages (caused by a third party) you will probably try to receive compensation. What happens if the entire system cannot help you as it happened in David’s case as follows?

David meets a “friend”

David made Aliyah a few months ago and decided to live in Tel Aviv after a short period with relatives and friends. David was looking for an apartment to share with a roommate when he met Arthur, another new immigrant living in Israel for the last few years.

After a brief talk over a beer, David and Arthur reached an agreement where David would move into Arthur’s apartment (the one he was renting himself). Each would have his own room but they were supposed to share the rest of the apartment. No written agreement was ever signed.

After David moved in, Arthur mentioned something about a “deposit” but only after David had moved in was he told that the deposit was part of the deal. A one month deposit should be paid to Arthur in addition to the monthly rent. This is not something irrational and it is part of many rental agreements.

Arthur did have a written contract with his landlord (a one year contract). The deposit was to be used as a guarantee for Arthur. If David, for any reason, breached the (nonexistent) contract between them, by moving out before the end of the original period (from the contract between Arthur and the landlord), David would lose that deposit!

Two weeks passed and David would not agree to give Arthur the deposit. David felt that if he had known about the deposit and its terms beforehand, he would not have moved in.

A few more days passed and now Arthur was threatening David: He would put all of David’s belongings in the street if he did not pay the deposit. David refused to pay.

After a few more days, David found the main door locked and the lock changed. He went to the police station and tried to open a complaint. The police refused, claiming that this was a civil case and not a criminal act. David went to the court, but because of the Pesach recess he could only talk to a secretary who told him (correctly) that this is a civil case and it would take time to solve the problem (if it could be solved at all – and if it even could be solved in David’s favor).

There was no instant solution!

Actually, David was also wrong

David knew that Arthur was serious but did very little to minimize the potential damages. David wanted to be right and look for justice (as he told me later) but what about the “other side of the story”?

Arthur (who was also wrong of course) should have clarified the issue of the deposit before David moved in. He should not have let David move in without a deposit, but this was not what happened.

Arthur, as a tenant to the landlord, and as a “landlord” to David, had the right to ask for anything including a deposit. This was a fair request and of course perfectly legal.

David should have been “smart” instead of “right”. He could have paid the deposit, moved out later if he did not like the partnership and sue Arthur. What David could not do was to expect Arthur to do nothing after not getting his deposit. This was clear from the very beginning: Arthur would not give in, he wanted the deposit.

For one’s bad judgment there is a price to be paid

For David, it was a lesson of being “smart” instead of “being right”. He had all of his belongings locked up. Arthur would allow David to take his belongings to another place but would not allow him to come in again!

David was now disappointed with the police, the courts, with lawyers and many others. Fortunately he had friends who helped him and offered him a bed to sleep in until he could find another room to rent.

Principles based on emotions, or on your wish to be right, could cost you dearly!

A word of wisdom:

If you are not ready to compromise, especially if you are in “foreign territory” as I describe the first year or so of a new immigrant in Israel, better to be more flexible. You must understand that you know very little about the legal system in Israel. You should be sure you have a “strong case” in your favor in order to be able to stand for your “principles”.

You may be right, and the law may be on your side, but the implementation of the law could turn out to be a long and sometimes painful process.

Pick your battles.

About the Author
Passionate about helping new immigrants, Tzvi Szajnbrum, Attorney at Law and Notary, founded the Voleh Organization, through which he and a team of volunteers provide “pro-bono” guidance to English speaking new immigrants, helping to ensure their successful integration into Israeli Society. As a former officer in the Israeli army, Tzvi is also able to help lead new immigrants in the right direction regarding the IDF. CEO of The Szajnbrum Group
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