Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Twenty years on

Signs that your mall experience is an Israeli mall experience -
1)there are neo-pseudo Breslev hassidim doing an impromptu frenzied hora outside the supermarket
2)all the stores have specials for International Women's Day
3) those that don't are packed with costume accessories for Purim
4)but the single most popular item most people seemed to be taking home with them is a gas mask. (Or at least a cardboard box on a shoulder strap claiming to contain a gas mask.)

Don't panic, well not yet anyway. Israel distributed gas masks during the 1991 Gulf War, and then again when the US invaded Iraq in 2003. It's just a routine precaution. What, they don't do that where you live?

You know the way folks in big cities have eleventy billion locks on their doors just in case? We get issued gas masks, just in case one of our sweet peaceful neighbouring despots looses it one day and decides to let off steam by going postal against Israel with a non-conventional payload.

Back in 2003 everyone was so convinced that Saddam might decide to go out with a bang that Pikud Ha'Oref (Home Front Command) broadcast continuous instructional videos on Israeli television urging people to familiarise themselves with their masks by trying them on.

Very reassuring except that it meant that within a short time the masks were no longer effective because the filters were now unsealed and said filters had a limited lifespan once unsealed.

So is it a coincidence that Pikud Ha'Oref is redistributing gas masks just as the stores are full of Purim costumes? Perhaps it's in honour of the end of the First Gulf War? Special twentieth anniversary edition gas masks?

No comments: