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May 8, 2007

would you stop and help this guy?

Ynet has a video of a shocking traffic accident that happened yesterday. A driver on a motorcycle attempted to squeeze between two trucks.
What happened to him is what happens, or almost happens, in all the movies that include car chases and drag races. That is, he did not make it out from between the trucks and got smashed.

Moshe Yisraeli ended up laying in the street for a couple of minutes and bled to death.

The shocking part of it is not the dangerous way the victim was driving, trying to squeeze between two trucks. I have seen much worse driving on any given day. Just this past Sunday night on my way back from Bnei Brak I saw two crazy drivers in two separate incidents. One of them switched lanes at high speed squeezing between two cars in alternate lanes to get in and zip by. The second was a similar situation.

It seems like everybody is in a rush, which is the reason traffic kills more people than terrorism and war in Israel. Considering Israel is technically, and even literally, a war zone, and considering Israel is home to non-stop terrorism, that means the traffic situation is pretty bad.

So, Yisraeli's driving is not shocking. Nor is it shocking that the accident resulted in his death. When you play with fire, you might just get burned. When you try to squeeze in between two moving trucks in traffic, you might just get crushed.

What is shocking though is the lack of response and assistance by Joe Q. Israeli (no relation to Joe Settler).

In the video you can see (not really well, but you can see it) cars continuing on their way. Drivers avoid the guy laying in the street and drive around him and his moped.

While society in Israel is changing, and people are minding their own business more than they used to, it still is a very caring and sharing society. If you walk outside in the sun with a baby, Israelis will come out of the woodwork to tell you that you should cover your baby's head from the sun. If you fall down in the street, 5 or 6 Israelis will immediately run over to see if you need help. If you are at the window in the bank, the Israeli behind you will offer advice how to pay less bank fees, or where you can get a better rate on your mortgage.

It is surprising that nobody stopped within the first minute or so and jumped out to help the guy.

As Israel becomes more and more like a Western country (i.e. United States) (for example, in terms of full capitalism and privatization, etc) we find more and more that people are concerned with themselves. People are less concerned with what is going on around them than they used to be. I've got to get to work. I don't have time to stop and help. Don't inconvenience me. I am in a rush.

The sad result of copying the West is the deterioration of the concern we always had for others around us. Now we just don't want to be inconvenienced. (not that this happens in the US, just it is a result of our copying the US in other things)


  1. Thanks for clearing up that possible misunderstanding. I think.

    It is a very strange story. People become very isolated in their cars and that is why they drive that way. I guess it also affects the way they act when they are driving.

  2. Rafi,

    I think your post was a bit off the mark.

    Everybody blames the "west;" Terrorists in the middle east, obesity in europe, lack of respect for their elders in japan, raffic accidents in Israel.

    If these countries were women they would all be pregnant because apparantly they just can't say no to the charms of the west.

  3. I saw this on the news last night and could not believe it!

  4. I think another factor is that the government, and I include most, if not all, of the governments in recent memory, perpetuate the "us" vs. "them" within Israeli society. There have always been different "kinds" of Israelis (Tel-Aviv Israeli, Hesdernik, settler, kibbutznik, etc.), but there was more a feeling of responsibility toward one another, no matter what group one was from. However, as the State moves into its "adolescence," these divisions are becoming significant in terms of people choosing and taking up sides, as it were, according to the group with which they associate themselves, and the government has been encouraging, if not leading, this trend.

    A huge manifestation of this phenomenon is that a large segment of the country could turn a blind eye as 9,000 people were evicted from their homes. A small manifestation is the tragic incident Rafi G. describes in this post.

  5. joe - isolation would do that. nobody else on the road is important..

    dan - I do not mean we copy the west so just like in the west they run people over on the road, so we do so here as well. This is an instance, I think, of a result of society copying the west. We are making everything into big business here in Israel. Worrying about privatizing everything (I am not saying any of this is wrong or bad. If it helps the economy, it is great) and improving the business ector, naturall, I think, makes people more concerned about themselves. Nobody wants to be late to work, because now there performance means something. Nobody wants to be inconvenienced because they need to be somewhere to make money. It is a natural result of copying the western society.

    rr - it is pretty shocking

    yoni - thanks for coming and commenting. I was going to also blame it on the government and they way they have a)polarized society as you point out, but even more so b) have ingrained in the society a me-first attitude. When the main players in the past three governments (at least) have been under investigation for fraud, embezzlement, stealing public funds, getting their friends prime jobs without proper tenders, that attitude of worrying about yourself eventually trickles down to the people also. In Israel nobody wants to be a friar. Why should I be concerned with anyone but myself if nobody else is, and if the PM/FM/whoever else is screwing society for their own needs as well, why should I be more concerned than them.

    But I chose not to blame the government, even though I think there might be something to it. If I did, everyone would jump on me that I am blaming the government for everything.... :-)

  6. This is the most shocking thing I have seen in a long time. Very hard for me to believe.

    I'm not sure it's as new a phenomenon as we'd like to believe though. I remember reading about the Kitty Genovese case in a college course. This case took place in the 1960s. Dozens of neighbors stood by while a young woman was being attacked and stabbed over a 30 minute period.

    After this case, psychologists did a series of studies on the "Genovese Effect" (also known as the "Bystander Effect". They concluded that solitary individuals are more likely to give help to someone than a group of people. They concluded the reasons for this are that in a group:
    1) Everyone thinks somebody else is going to help
    2) They assume that someone else in the crowd is probably more qualified to help (like a medical professional)
    3) Since other people are not helping, the victim does not actually need help
    4) They are afraid of doing the wrong thing in front of a crowd

    Don't know how accurate their findings are. It still doesn't make much sense to me. I can't imagine seeing someone lying bleeding in the road and simply driving around.

    On a different subject, a note to Dan G:
    "If these countries were women they would all be pregnant because apparantly they just can't say no to the charms of the west."

  7. I have to admit, that is shocking. Many years ago, my father and I witnessed a motorcycle accident where the rider crashed into the back of a truck. To make matter worse, the rider wore no helmet. The motorcyclist, a woman, lay bleeding in the street much as this man did. We did stop to help and call an ambulance.

    Although, perhaps it depends on where this accident took place. Perhaps it was a dangerous area? My husband went to college on the South Side of Chicago in a dangerous neighborhood. They advised the students that if you ever get into a car accident, quickly drive to the nearest police station, tell them what happened, and go with police escort back to the scene (this was in the early 1990s) - but if you value your life - DON'T get out of the car alone.

  8. I saw it on ABC news. Do you know what intersection it was?

  9. I do not know which exact intersection it was, but it was by Azur which is a southern suburb of Tel Aviv.

  10. I was told that the previous night a cat fell out of a Yafo 3rd floor dira, and dozens of people ran to save it. Go figure...


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