There seems to be nothing Israelis dislike more than long waiting lines. Though this country has a robust universal healthcare system, my recent visit to a somewhat chaotic system pharmacy in Jerusalem perfectly demonstrates the phenomenon. At virtually any venue in Israel where lines are encouraged to form—checkout counters, post offices, city hall, the various governmental ministries—it seems like all attempts to proceed in an orderly fashion are vigorously opposed by the natives.
Often in several tongues.
After taking a ticket for service as I entered the pharmacy door, I experienced a classic example of the infamous Israeli distaste for decorum and found myself wondering, Why?
I took a seat in the lobby between two very old Israeli women—they were about my age—and soon heard a barrage of loud complaints in Hebrew stereo as they railed against the injustice of the pharmacy’s insistence upon serving customers in the order in which they had arrived. It made no sense. These old girls had needs and they were being ignored.
“Yes, ma’am,” he answered calmly, “I just paged 256.”The gal to my left, a solid caricature of a matronly Israeli orthodox woman, wore a modest, beaver brown tichel and a long, dark skirt designed to eliminate any suggestion that she may have been born with legs. “Sir,” she shouted at one of the pharmacists up front, “I have number 272!”
This was an outrage! She let him know.
“What to do?” the lady to my right sighed with compassion after witnessing the insult.
I then suffered a lapse in judgment and dared to laugh out loud.
“Are you a native?” Ms. 272 slowly turned and asked me, her eyes narrowed with suspicion.
I began to answer hesitatingly, in my poor Hebrew, so the outcome was inevitable. “No!” she proclaimed to all the others in the store who had also been waiting—and listening—pouncing on my telltale pause. They all nodded knowingly; This laughing fellow is not a true Israeli, I could feel them thinking. I felt such shame. I wanted to stand and declare, “I will never again wait patiently in line for my number to be called!”
But it was too late; I had been judged.
The drama continued; it always does. The system paged ticket 257. My accuser complained again then, and repeatedly after each successive number until hers was finally called. (She seemed surprised when it happened!) As her empathetic friend to my right had said so profoundly, earlier, What to do?
I agree, What is there to do? and I remain at peace with Israeli impatience and the frequent displays one witnesses here that most would label bad manners. Who, after all, are these overly anxious people?
- Many are sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors.
- Most have served in the Israeli military, endured hostile fire and mark the major epochs in their lives—marriage, first job, graduation, the birth of a son or daughter—by referencing whatever war for survival was ongoing at the time.
- Too many have lost loved ones to terrorism.
- They are collectively known as the Jews by a hateful component of human society who believe them to be part of the nebulous international Zionist conspiracy to rule the world, hence among the most hated (and viciously libeled) people on earth.
- Few of them understand the role they play in prophecy.
- All, except for a relatively small number of elitist, left-wing, self-hating Jewish Israeli citizens, love this land and are committed to staying, regardless, understanding that they really have no other place to go.
Tuvia Tenenbom has written an important, entertaining and informative book, Catch the Jew! an investigative work which unravels much of the Israeli ethos and offers disturbing insight into mounting worldwide opposition to the redeemed Jewish state. He sums up what seems to be the prevailing secular view…
Miraculously, the Jews have built one of the most sophisticated, intense, beautiful countries of our time, but what are they going to do to keep it? They hate themselves, they belie themselves, they are full of fears and many rush to get another passport; they want to go back to Poland, to Austria, to Germany – lands where their forefathers were hunted down and killed.”
But, after the fears, threats, libeling and notorious Israeli impatience all pass, scripture declares confidently that this unworthy land shall prevail. Zechariah said it 2,500 years ago…
…the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. ‘It will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing. Do not fear, let your hands be strong.’
For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and I have not relented, so I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear! (Zec 8:12-15)
I would add to Zechariah’s profound assurance above a little, mundane request; and please, O Israel, try to be a little more patient when next you find yourself waiting in line.
This article originally appeared the blog Standing by the Gate, August 1, 2016, and reposted with permission.