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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 07, 2003

The Great Israeli Snow Storm of Adar Aleph 5763

By Ariel Natan Pasko.

Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at:

"When cooped up with the kids for 3 days, one begins to think about things that one normally let's slide right by, not giving them a second thought in better times. Such is the 'Snow Storm' or more aptly put, the 'deeper' 'inner' meanings of it. Looking out my living room window, watching the alternating sunny blue skies and clear roads; then pounding flash of white flurries, sometimes actually settling; then blue skies again, I contemplated the meaning of the fog, flurries, and raging storm.

Simple 'outer' meanings are below us to meditate on, 'they' were even broadcast on the radio. Surely it was sent (by G-D) to help PM Ariel Sharon apply pressure in his coalition negotiations. Or, at least that's the angle his Likud colleagues took, accusing him of using the Snow Storm as an excuse not to meet with them on Tuesday. It must have been called in by PM Sharon, like an air strike, just before some important meeting with the Palestinians, to anger and humiliate them, and divert the world's attention from the going nowhere talks. OK, I declare it openly right now, "The Snow Storm is Ariel Sharon's fault." I told you I've been cooped up to long!

But that is only an external view of events, not really worthy of our thought. Deeper contemplation yields deeper layers of meaning. As the storm raged on, and 'finally' some accumulation became noticeable, other insights came upon me like a brilliant flash of wisdom, the way army flares light up the night sky in search of terrorists, infiltrating a Kibbutz or 'settlement'. Now's a good time for Saddam Hussein to attack us, I thought. Let him use his chemical or biological weapons, "It doesn't scare me." The joke would be on him, we're all in our 'sealed rooms' already. His timing hasn't been too good recently, anyway. Besides, after 3 days indoors, one needs a little 'action'.

I debated and debated, and then finally blurted out to my wife, "With all the rain and snow, it would wash the gas right out of the sky." That must be the Snow Storm's inner meaning. It's a hint of what's going to happen. Then I started pondering the imponderable, heavy under the influence of the white flurries swirling around my window. Did you ever notice that suicide bomb attacks; in fact all types of terrorist attack, slack off in bad weather. I 'understood'! It was as clear as a sunny day in June. They simply aren't as committed to killing and maiming us as we think. Or is it in their 'work contract' that they can take off for inclement weather. I guess even suicide bombers don't want to go out in cold, rainy or snowy weather just to blow up, better to wait for a sunny warm day. No one wants to be the 'Palestinian' version of a FRYER - Israeli slang - for a sucker. It wouldn't be too cool, arriving at heaven's gate, soaking wet!

It hit me like a rock on the windshield. With all the concern about the weather, closed roads and schools; no one was concerned about the possible War with Iraq or the 'situation' with the 'Palestinians' or the Economy, for a moment. The Economy. Funny, how in the United States or Russia, life went on all winter long with 20-40 cm of snow on the ground. People went to work, children went to school, and somebody went shopping for groceries; that were delivered to the stores, I might add. Not in Israel, the country with one of the highest levels of strike-days and lowest productivity in the Western World. Israel it seems 'Closes Down' at the fall of a flurry. It makes you think they're just looking for an excuse to take a vacation.

When I mentioned this to some people on Sunday - the day before the Snow Storm - they just shrugged and said, "Well, they're used to snow there." I pointed out that Israel gets a moderate level of snow every 2-3 years and a more serious storm every 5-8 years. That for the average adult in their 30's and up, they've experienced 15 or more snowy winters and quite a few serious storms. Israeli society, can 'get used to' over 700 people killed and thousands injured in 2 1/2 years of terrorist warfare, but a little snow, and hysteria sets in.

Speaking of deaths and injuries, another 400-600 are killed in traffic accidents every year, generally more, than from terror and crime. With 2002's 459 Oslo War victims, terror is catching up quickly. But guess what I realized as I stared out the window, looking down on the white unused road? No traffic equals no traffic accidents, or at least substantially fewer. As this realization overtook me with delight, at the thought of reducing the road carnage in Israel, I told my wife, "What if we called off driving, closed the roads, a couple times a week, say Tuesdays and Thursdays. Imagine how many lives we could save?" She just chuckled, knowing I've been in the house too long.

I told her, "I read about 27 women giving birth during the storm. They had to tell us how many, I commented." She replied, "Yah, think about how many women 'postponed' it...even babies don't want to come out in cold, stormy weather, like this." She, in her almost infinite wisdom, pointed out that the electric company workers are probably complaining about being overworked during the storm. But don't worry, she continued, "They'd probably demand and get extra compensation for the work." It doesn't matter that they're the highest paid public sector employees in the country, averaging 11,500 Shekels a month, plus getting free electricity, i.e. extra heat. This, at a time of pending government budget cuts and public sector lay-offs. As she said, "It doesn't mean they have to work any harder."

Taking one last look out the window, reflecting on the vastness of the Snow Storm and the current problems hitting Israel, I comfort myself with the thought, PURIM IS COMING!

In the Purim story, everything looks gloomy; the 'Snow Storm' of hatred rages against the Jewish people, the Jews are about to get it...and then...HAFOOCH - everything is turned upside down. Haman - the combined Arafat and Saddam Hussein - of his time, ends up on the gallows instead. I remember that the last Gulf War ended just before Purim, without Saddam Hussein's threat to, "Burn half of Israel" carried out. I ponder the 'coincidence' of this threatened war happening about Purim time. PURIM IS COMING!

Then again, by Pesach - Passover - springtime will be upon us. All this 'big tragedy' of the Snow Storm, will just be a distant blurry memory. Clear blue sunny skies will return, and with it, all our 'regular' troubles, like terrorism and traffic accidents. It makes you kind of miss being cooped up with the kids and the Snow Storm. But for now, PURIM IS COMING! "