Border Police? What Border Police?
I went to a friend's apartment today. She was having some custom work done on her bathroom, and at the suggestion of her contractor, she called a guy who lives in Jerusalem to give her an estimate on a bathroom counter.
The guy comes and gives her the estimate. Turns out the guy DOES live in Jerusalem but in one of the Arab neighborhoods because, well, he's an Arab. Nonetheless, he came highly recommended by the (Jewish) contractor, his price was reasonable for both the material and the installation, and he could get it done quickly.....important if you only have one bathroom and need it in good working order.
So today, because she was alone at the apartment, I offered to come over and sit with her while the workers delivered her bathroom counter. I met them outside to guide them into the apartment while she made coffee for everyone.
To my astonishment, when they opened their work van (one of those big Savanna-type things), it was packed to the gills with large clear plastic bags stuffed with tin cans.
Recycling? I wondered.
The workers proceeded to offload the myriad plastic bags until the only thing left in the van was a tool box and the counter, buried under all those bags. The guys picked up the counter-top and carried it into the apartment.
I told Yossi and the Husband about my friend and her counter, and in what must have sounded like quintessential American babe-in-the-woods naivete, I asked why the workers would cart around a pile of tin cans to be recycled?
The Husband, having lived here before, simply laughed at me. Yossi, who refrained from laughing but who must at times like this think I'm incredibly dumb, explained:
"The Arab has a factory in Aza or in Chevron or Bet Lechem, Sarah. Probably it belongs to his family or to friends. The countertop is made there. That's why its not expensive. Then to get it into Israel, he has to drive it from the factory to Jerusalem to your friend's home. He has to get it by the Border Police--so he covers it with bags of trash."
I was astounded. "That's it?!" I asked, somewhat rhetorically, "That's all they have to do to sneak something over the border? Pile trash on top of it?"
Used to the border crossing at Tijuana, where I've actually watched the border police disassemble cars, I was appalled. Even on ride-alongs with the police in the various departments I've worked with, I've seen more thorough searches of suspect vehicles.
"WHAT are the guys in the Border Police doing?" I asked aloud. "Why isn't anyone searching the van?"
"The policeman looks in the back window, maybe opens the back door, sees a lot of bags filled with aluminum cans, and waves him through," Yossi said calmly, lifting an eyebrow with a cynical what-were-you-expecting glance.
"What if it was a bomb instead of a countertop? What if it was a bunch of suicide-bomb belts instead of construction material?" I asked heatedly.
Yossi just shrugged. "It's not hard to smuggle something into the country, Sarah."
I was hot at that moment, blaming it on lax security procedures.....but then again, for all I know, the Border Police did open the vehicle, did see the countertop under the trash, and waved the driver through anyway because it wasn't a bomb.
At least I'd like to think that the police in charge of border security and counter-terrorism are doing their jobs thoroughly enough that we're not in danger from their laxity and boredom. I'd like to think that......