The Ladders Are Too Short

The narrow space between an accident and a 'near accident' is destined to become smaller, and our luck is destined to run out.

In recent days we have discovered why so many people find it difficult to come down from the rooftops and trees they have climbed on, and important people find it even more difficult: Everything here is too high-flown - the metaphors, the presumptions - one's eyes and heart suffer from heights. And the ladders are too short.

Fire at the Shalom Tower Moti Kimche
Moti Kimche

It's not a metaphor for high policy, it's a renewed acquaintance with base reality: For example, recently a fire broke out in the Shalom Tower in Tel Aviv. Only a hair's breadth separated a small incident from a major disaster. Our need for miracles is regular and predictable: The comptroller's reports were filled with criticism of the impotence, the shortness of the hoses and ladders of the Fire and Rescue Services, but even the reports are pushed up to dusty top shelves.

The man in charge, the interior minister, is in no hurry when things are on fire. He has a God to depend on, who is operated by remote control through blessings and curses from an annoying old man. At any moment Eli Yishai is also ready to set fire to Jerusalem, which only God can extinguish, had he not also been burned in the holy fire.

The height of the Shalom Tower is 142 meters. New towers in the city are taller. Firemen in Tel Aviv have no long ladders of the kind that reach to the heavens. Residence in a penthouse should no longer be interpreted as arrogance. On the contrary: It should serve as a model of civil courage. If a war breaks out and the Tel Aviv homefront becomes a battlefront, as the outgoing head of Military Intelligence warned this week, the towers will catch fire first, and their residents will become a personal example.

Not only was there a fire, but at the same time there was also a fog that totally paralyzed the country's airport. For over 20 years they have been talking here about the urgent need for an alternative airport. But meanwhile, in the next four years one Ben-Gurion International Airport will operate one runway, and still without the equipment for harsh weather. They built a magnificent airport and neglected the runways. Sometimes it seems as though local captains prefer foggy conditions - to ignore the life-endangering control tower and once again risk an emergency landing.

Already two years ago the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration drastically lowered Israel's aviation safety ranking, and since then we've been in the same boat as Zambia and Zimbabwe. A country whose tech is high, which is a member of the OECD, which elevates the value of life to great heights, is in effect a backward third-world country.

Maybe they can explain to us, so we'll finally understand, what is so complicated about adhering to the regulations of the properly administered world. After all, the narrow space between an accident and a "near accident" is destined to become smaller, and our luck is destined to run out. For how long will we depend on the mercies of heaven? The director general of the International Air Transport Association, who visited us last week, was also astonished at the slow and ineffective pace of reform - and told us to speed up the process.

Maybe Shaul Mofaz will volunteer to explain, because he was transportation minister for a relatively long period, and because during his tenure we became a leper country in terms of aviation, and because he is so good at explaining matters of supreme importance. On the contrary, let's hear from him why internal and external tourists are living here on borrowed time. In that way we will also understand the connection between a person's success as a minister and his presumption to be prime minister. And maybe Fuad (Benjamin Ben-Eliezer ) will be the one to explain how an "atom bomb" grew like a mushroom in the Haifa Bay under the nose of many governments, in all of which he served and all of which he used.

Where is this advanced country advancing, this one and only country in the world that tried to excavate a tunnel for a subway and did not succeed. Once Jacob had the highest ladder, which was used for ascent and descent. But that was a long time ago, even before he was given another name.