January 09, 2013
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January 7, 2009

# Playing Palestinian Roulette

I had never been a gambler. I once went to Atlantic City to feel the atmosphere. I did not like it.  Yet since last Tuesday I've started gambling - with my life.

It takes the Grad rocket launched from 40 km away some 60 seconds to reach Be'er Sheva. Since all the apartment buildings built since 1991 have the mamad (the safe room) built in, we just need to hear the siren go off in time.  At work it is the same. It is between home and work that I am forced to play Palestinian Roulette.  It is not pleasant.

What do you do if the siren goes off while you are waiting at the red light? The rule is that you run for cover to the nearest building and get under a staircase.  And if you are too far away - just lie on the your stomach and hope for the best.  After all, the odds are no greater than a car running into you during regular traffic, says a colleague. I am not convinced.  The probability may be small but the weight factor is infinite.

I liked probability and combinatorics in high school and college. But then we used to calculate the odds of two people having the same birthday in a group of 30. Not the chances of being killed by a Chinese made Russian designed Grad.  I could be killed by the creation of a pilmeni eating and kefir drinking engineer who designed this thing in  the early sixties, and probably got a 50 rouble bonus with his picture displayed at the cafeteria as the worker of the year, maybe even became the Hero of Socialist Work.

The situation also brings out some interesting ethical dilemmas. Is it right to order food through the internet to be delivered, since this is not just a question of inconvenience. Someone may get killed so that you may be comfortable.  I know the usual arguments, they are surely paid with an extra coefficient for the danger, but still, ordering food so that someone else ends up risking his life is questionable.

So we drive faster to minimize the exposure time. During this time I think of nothing but what should I do if that very second I heard the siren.  Only when I came to work did I remember the email I got from a friend which made me nauseous: "I cannot understand how the Gaza strip situation is anything but a massacre of a desperate group of people, trapped, with no way out but rebellion ."

I tell her to read the Hamas Charter.

"I don't feel like reading the Hamas Charter, first reason being because visiting the web page of anything to do with Hamas will mark me as having something to do with the mess."