Moshe Hai Yisrael (archive photo)
Photo: Reproduction, Itzik Shiprut, Tel Aviv Police Spokesperson Unit

Highway demagoguery

B. Michael refutes accusations of Israeli society's apathy in this week's fatal moped accident

It all began when footage of a security camera reached the hands of a TV news department. A quick-eyed editor realized that exceptional material, bound to create the next hysteria, had fallen into his hands and he proceeded to immediately place the hot merchandise at the top of the news broadcast.


So far there is nothing dramatically wrong or irregular in this story. Yet in Israel if we go through two days without some kind of drama we begin having withdrawal symptoms and start falling apart. We would be better off having an ongoing supply of reasons to tear out each other's hair in order to maintain our unity.


Perhaps there's no need to recount what this story is all about, but nonetheless following are the details: A terrible road accident occurred at the Azur intersection in Holon south of Tel Aviv this week. For some unknown reason Moshe Hai Yisrael (may he rest in peace), who was riding a moped, was hurled under the wheels of a cement mixer. He was squashed to death and remained lying on the road alongside his mangled moped.


A security camera positioned on a nearby roof by Channel 10 News aired the footage which shows the 10 seconds where traffic continued to flow normally without a single car stopping and without a single person coming to the casualty's assistance.


And indeed, immediately after the footage was aired the festivities began. Everyone was quick to accuse one another, to cry over the demise of Israeli society, to wail, to be shocked, to wring their hands in obvious desperation and to impressively sound voices of calamity and lamentation that looked and sounded good.


In short, it was a festivity crammed with satisfaction.


However there is only one problem with this festivity: It's synthetic, it is false. It is artificial and affected, but mostly it is dangerous in its ability to teach drivers to act like a herd of curious idiots, instead of as responsible citizens.


Firstly, a few facts should be noted, perhaps not concealed intentionally but not highlighted either:


  • The driver of the cement mixing vehicle stopped on the spot, got out of the vehicle, directed traffic and apparently called the police or the Magen David ambulance service, just as he should have.


  • According to reports, at least 20 of the drivers passing by called the emergency services, just as they should have.


  • According to eye witnesses, the injuries inflicted on the moped rider were so severe that there was not the slightest doubt that Moshe Hai-Yisraeli had died instantly.


It would be sufficient therefore, in a moment of honest and serious thinking to understand that the proper conduct - the most efficient and legal in such a situation (for those who do not happen to be doctors, paramedics or having other medical training) – would be to call the relevant emergency services and to leave the area.


Just imagine what would have happened had the drivers at the site behaved the way some self-righteous people are demanding of them, and had actually stopped in the middle of the busy intersection: In an instant the junction would have become blocked with traffic, rescue services wouldn't have been able to break through the traffic and they would have wasted valuable time beeping their horns in anger and frustration.


The sensational headlines the next day would have read "dies due to curious spectators," and would have delved into descriptions of the drivers' imperviousness who had stopped their vehicles near the casualty and prevented ambulances from reaching the scene.


Even the chatter regarding "offering assistance" was unfounded. A person without medical training and who is also foolish enough to attempt treating a seriously wounded person could have made his condition far worse.


The truth must be sounded: Those calling on drivers to stop and offer assistance to a wounded person are in fact only advising them how to spare themselves feelings of guilt. Essentially, they cannot do a thing.


In this case, thank God, and for a change, most of them behaved as they should. They called the police or the Magen David ambulance service and moved away from the scene so as not to cause disruptions. And this is what they should do in the future as well. 


פרסום ראשון: 05.11.07, 17:54
 new comment
This will delete your current comment