Word of the Day / Protekzia

In Israel, more often than not, it's all about who you know.

Want to find a job in Israel or get the pothole in your street fixed? Sure, you might find employment by sending out a resume or resolve your pothole situation by petitioning the city council, but the most direct route to success is often "protekzia," also known as "Vitamin P."

As you have probably guessed, protekzia is all about protection, but not in that mafia-style “I won’t break your windows anymore if you pay me protection money” way. It’s a word that connotes the importance of connections, of having friends in the right places and, sometimes, of blatant nepotism.

There is often a sense of corruption surrounding protekzia, especially when people who got where they are because they happen to have a powerful family member are raking in taxpayer money through no qualifications of their own. The all too common phenomenon can, of course, also spark intense frustration, both on the societal level and on the personal one – especially among those who don’t have the kind of army buddies or family friends who can offer the coveted advantages of an old boys’ network.

Protekzia can be used for health care too, like the English-speaking immigrant blogger (because even immigrants can – on occasion – luck out with, say, a well-connected neighbor) who wrote that someone he knows helped whittle his waiting time for a medical test down from five months to three weeks. The right social network might also be able to get you the surgeon with the best reputation or a private room in the hospital. Doctors may be more closely associated with prescriptions than the over-the-counter stuff, but sometimes it’s a vitamin that proves to be the real wonder drug.