Talia Kainan

Where Have All the Systems Gone?

The first train of the red line (Photo: NTA)

Every developer worth their salt knows that what a product is supposed to do, and how it is supposed to be used, can be drastically different from how it is used by the consumer.

A great example of this are the bugs undoubtedly encountered any time new government apps go live. It takes a while to work out the kinks. Israel had a front row seat to the shortcomings of the government’s latest project when Minister of Transportation Miri Regev was unable to use the payment machines at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Red Line, the new light-rail running in Gush Dan. Not only were the machines faulty, but Regev, a long-time politician, didn’t have her own Rav Kav or appropriate form of payment.

Journalists like Shaul Amsterdamski were quick to point out the remedy to the apparent blindness of our representatives to the failings of the big systems – those at the head of a ministry, should experience on a regular basis the user experience of their offered services. Would that solve all the problems? Assuredly, there are more hurdles to overcome than simply unawareness. But as Auerbach’s Pyramid of Conflict Reconciliation teaches, the first steps are acquaintance and acknowledgement. Some of the many flaws outlined by transportation correspondents have been the lack of underground connections between nearby light-rail and inter-city train stations and poorly named stations that do not reflect well the noteworthy locations in the area. While these are more difficult to change and will likely remain without resolution, other issues such as the time traveling between stations and the payment process are likely going to improve with time, as they did in the Jerusalem light-rail.

But as satisfying as it is to complain about the lack of infrastructure and Israeli tendency to cut corners, while certain systems come to Israel to die, others flourish here.

Which systems are a go in Israel?

To name one, diverting funds from Arab municipalities. Finance Minister Smotrich has been perpetuating that while at the colleges and academic prep programs the funds are meant for, the Arab participants run “terror cells” and therefore should not be encouraged. Presented with the opposite conclusions, that academic life does more to balance and discourages extremism among the Arab students, Smotrich has ignored the evaluations of security officials in the name of upholding systemic racism, holding out of reach education and equal opportunity for Israeli Arabs and residents of East-Jerusalem. So some systems continue to live and breathe – namely, systemic racism.

Another worrying trend that has surfaced on social media has been the police brutality as seen in the cases closely covered during the protests against the judicial reform. While the issue has existed long before, for the first time we have extensive video recordings closely detailing the incidents, including officers’ identifying details to follow up with. The problem came to head this week when an encounter with the Israel Police left a Palestinian from Shuafat refugee camp with a Star of David branded into his cheek. The resident of the Shuafat refugee camp is suspected of having committed drug trafficking offenses. There is seemingly no explanation at the moment as to the source of the clearly defined symbol on his skin, albeit police claims that it was caused by the shoelaces on the boot of an officer subduing him. While being held down with a shoe to the face with the force needed to leave such clear marks is not marginally better, it still seems unlikely and forensic authorities have declared that the described shoe was not the cause of the mark. Of the many negative American mannerisms adopted by our authorities lately, it is worrying to see branding religious symbols as another point on the list. Some may say that the system is broken, that the Police Internal Investigations Department does nothing and that malicious cops have free reign to act with impunity. Others might surmise that when we see so many incidents, perhaps systemic police violence is the feature, not a bug.

Regardless of the readers opinion on the mentioned issues, there is broad consensus that Israel has some debugging to do. Let’s start with effective public transportation, there’s still some hope there.

About the Author
Talia is currently a law student at Hebrew University and served in the International Branch of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. Born and raised in Jerusalem.
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