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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Accusations Follow Excessive Expectations of Storm Fighting Capacity


A snow plow clearing the entrance to the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem during the major snow storm that hit the capital on Friday, December 13. Israelis are pointing the finger at government, but much of the disaster could have been avoided with better individual preparedness.

A snow plow clearing the entrance to the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem during the major snow storm that hit the capital on Friday, December 13. Israelis are pointing the finger at government, but much of the disaster could have been avoided with better individual preparedness.
Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash 90

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Many commentators, both on TV and in the papers, used their bully pulpits in a similar fashion, condemning a government that was straining to cope with a crisis that happens once in 50 years. Very few commentators found it necessary to discuss personal responsibility in a crisis, preparedness on an individual basis – all the things folks in Buffalo and Poughkeepsie have been doing since snow was first invented.

My friend and colleague Stephen, who lives in Efrat and so has been exposed to a much rougher version of the “storm of the century” than we did here, in coastal Netanya, wished to differ with the general gist of my story, and so, loyal to the ethics of truth in reporting, I will paraphrase from his recent irate chat:

Israel is looking like a third world country this weekend, because there were no surprises here that couldn’t have been planned for in advance on both the local and national level to help relieve the situation, and that includes simple solutions like stocking up on salt for the roads and buying a snow plow or two to attach to a pickup truck here in the Gush.

The IEC could actually have fixed their infrastructure years ago, as the residents of Gush Etzion have been suing them to do these past few years. It’s practically criminal that they haven’t done so.

Jerusalem has snow almost every winter, as well as some big storms every couple of years, even if not on this scale. This wasn’t a new and unpredictable event for the IEC or the government.

Maariv cited Shlomo Buchbut, of The Center For Local Government, one of the most experienced experts in this field, who said he had been trying to contact and advise local decision makers across Israel, with disheartening results. He said the experience reminded him of the early hours of the Yom Kippur war, when reports of a crisis were streaming in droves and decision makers were stuck in place frozen.

I suppose it’s a combination of issues, then. Israelis who feel they can measure up to anything life hands them discovering their own mortality, and an Israeli government that believes when the time comes it’ll figure out something already.

See you next century.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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4 Responses to “Accusations Follow Excessive Expectations of Storm Fighting Capacity”

  1. and now the finger pointing begins

  2. James Johnston Ferguson says:

    The united kingdom comes to a virtual standstill when it snows "
    with just a few inches of snow everything is gridlock "
    our government has no idea on how to react"
    with a growing population unemployed -no minister has dared to make the jobless work clearing roads airport runways " no its to much to even contemplate how dare anyone suggest a national call up ! G-D-help us should we have a real crisis " mr Cameron should look at Germany -who did do a national call up to help fellow country folk ! maybe on day our unemployed will have to put their winter woollies on "

  3. If the government had spent millions prepping for a storm that only happens maybe once every 100 years, people would complain that they were wasting resources on something that may never happen. And really, the snow doesn't stick around for weeks on end, so stockpiling salt and snow-trucks seems excessive. Power-outages are a problem though, and eventually, we'll start to bury more of our power lines to prevent them. James Ferguson has a good idea though…if you're not doing anything, grab a shovel and burn some calories. If you have a good shovel, it's almost fun.

  4. Eva Feld says:

    Get a grip on reality Israel. We have destructive Monsoons, Haboobs and other disasters. We do the best we can, go to shelters and know that the utilities know all about it and then some. When it happens in the summer we swelter, in the winter, yes, we freeze. So get a grip, this doesn't happen to often to you, B'H we us it happens ever year! The question is not that, but WHEN. Join the club and be happy you had no casualties.

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