Billing My Time: The Bureaucratic Mess of Israel

As my seventh ‘year’ in Israel commenced, my new status as a ‘real’ citizen gave me some extra bureaucratic headaches to manage. If you’ve ever had to deal with a government agency in Israel, you know what I’m talking about.The first thing to learn is cooperate with the government workers because if you’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to you and I’ve had to deal with a lot of them.

Over the past month I’ve had to learn how to pay the water bill, the electric bill, the city tax bill (arnona) on the rented apartment, sign up for health insurance and best of all, open up a bank account where money gets deposited in my checking account for the first six months as a gift for uprooting yourself and coming to live in Israel.

In each experience I found the people across from me patient and doing they’re job well smiling and speaking to me and not at me.

However, its pretty clear most of it is a facade and they despise what they do, which brings me to a fascinating fact:

Some of the main offices seem to be open less than half the week.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked back and forth to the city hall or the national insurance agency only to find them closed.

The strangest is when all of the systems at one government building fail. It happened this week at the city hall.

I arrived happily hoping to take care of some business only to find their computers have been down for a week! A week!

“When will they be fixed?” I asked.

Nobody knows.

“Call back and press extension 106 to see if they have been activated,” I was told.

How does this country work?

I know it does because I can see cars on the street and the news is full of the kind of things that happen in a working country. There’s war, fraud, perjury, trials, racism, religious coercion and secular hatred of the religious because they are perceived as being coercive.

The country is working! Why don’t the computers!

Thank God I am home.

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