Opinion |

Israeli Drivers Don’t Signal Because They Don't Care

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Israel's highway six.
Israel's highway six. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

At first glance, it’s a triviality: Israeli drivers don’t signal. There’s nothing left to say about their aggressiveness, violence, rudeness and lack of consideration for anyone else on the road. The refusal to signal would seem to be the least of their sins.

It’s a simple action. It only requires one finger, and it doesn’t cost money. One flick and the blinker goes on. You don’t even have to turn it off, it turns itself off automatically. And yet, Israelis don’t signal. They turn right or left, switch lanes, stop to park – and they don’t signal.

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Signaling is for the weak. Signaling is for wimps. Anyone who signals is a sucker. Women and men, SUVs and subcompact SUVs. None of them signal.

And really, why should they signal? What for? The fact is that it works. You can do everything even without signaling. So why signal?

There are drivers who don’t even know turn signals are installed in their cars. The horn is hoarse from their honking, but the blinker has remained in the same position from the day they bought their new monster.

Nevertheless, this nonsense about signaling actually teaches us an incomparably instructive lesson about Israelis. The people who proclaim emotionally that “All Jews are brothers,” choke up when they sing “Long live this people, how good it is that this is what it’s like,” call everyone “bro” and tell themselves what wonderful fraternity exists here actually live in one of the most egotistical, inconsiderate societies on the planet.

This attitude of ”everyone except me is worthless” begins with the blinker. When you see those permanently unlit turn signals, you realize that. Israelis don’t signal because they have no intention of thinking about anyone besides themselves.

It’s always possible to excuse the aggression and violence on the road as a product of the security tensions that ostensibly dominate life here. It’s also possible to blame the heat or the intolerable traffic jams that can drive a person crazy.

But signaling? How is that connected to the Iranian threat or the Holocaust? Obviously, it isn’t.

The refusal to signal is pure, distilled egotism, devoid of any justification. It’s Israeli arrogance in all its nakedness. It there’s nothing in it for me, why should I bother? It’s all me, me, me, ala Haim Hefer’s song “Hey, the Jeep.”

After all, signaling is meant to inform others about your intentions – to warn them, ask permission from them, conduct a dialogue with them. And all those things are foreign to us. Israelis don’t forget to signal; they never intended to do so.

Granted, Israelis’ inconsiderateness on the road has gradations. The people who forcibly break into your lane without signaling are the majority; the ones who signal and think that’s enough to make the road belong to them are the minority; and the ones who signal and also wait to see if other cars will let them merge are a negligible minority. The day this negligible minority becomes the majority, we’ll have a different country.

This behavior wasn’t born on the roads, nor does it remain there. It has its roots in our culture, our national character and the zeitgeist, and at the same time, it also shapes them.

Just as Israeli drivers don’t think about anyone else on Route 6, their state doesn’t think about anyone else in the neighborhood. It occupies another people, freely flies without permission through another country’s airspace and freely bombs another country.

Thinking about others will never be one of Israelis’ considerations. It’s not even the last and least of their considerations.

Israelis hold the bodies of 300 Palestinians, ostensibly as bargaining chips, and to hell with the terrible pain this causes their thousands of horrified relatives, who have lost what is dearest of all to them and now don’t even have a grave to visit. Israelis kill innocents, and then confiscate all their relatives’ permits to work in Israel, blindly and arbitrarily.

Does anyone stop to think about the terrible price these people are paying, through no fault of their own? Does this interest anyone? Is this a consideration for anyone?

But why should it be a consideration? After all, Israel can commit such abuses, so why not? There’s only one issue on the table – Israel, Israel, Israel. There’s no one and nothing else.

Just like on the roads. Just like the drivers who never signal.

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