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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Perception vs. Reality

You know, ever since Gush Katif 16 months ago, and not helped in the least bit by Amona, which was an unbelievable disaster, the police in this country don't have such a great image, at least not in the eyes of the political right-wing.

But it's very important to remember that, in general, it is dangerous to assume that perception is reality (much as that pains me to admit, given my line of work).

Why am I mentioning this?

Well, I was stopped by a policeman at a checkpoint last night. He shined his flashlight into my eyes, and motioned me over to the shoulder. I, of course, complied, and sat waiting for him to just make sure that I was one of the good guys. He looked into my backseat and noticed three kids there, plus Tzviki in the front passenger seat, and asked me, "How old is she?" motioning to Nili, who was buckled up in the backseat.

"She's two," I answered honestly.

"The law says a child has to be four to be out of a carseat. And how old is he?" he asked, pointing into the frontseat at Tzviki.

"He's seven," I responded, sure that was not as much of an issue.

"The law says 14 for a child in the front seat."

"Oh," I said.

"I need you to make sure you fix this and don't do it from now on," he said, "And I'm not telling you that because it's the law. I'm telling you that because I want your beautiful children to be safe, okay?"

"Okay," I said.

"I'm also not going to give you a ticket, because I have a feeling you aren't interested in paying a 1,500 shekel fine today. Am I right?" he asked.

"Yes. Thank you," I said.

"Have a good evening and drive safely," he said.

I drove away and had a talk with the kids about what had just taken place. Temima, our four-and-a-half year old, said, "Yeah, he just wants us to be safe and that's why he stopped us."

When it comes to Aliyah, there is also a major issue of perception versus reality. And just like being stopped by that nice policeman, there are many people who make Aliyah and realize that day-to-day life here isn't really the same as the perception of Aliyah. The perception is that finances are the most challenging aspect of Aliyah. Our poll showed that as well. But guess what? You may be in for a surprise. You may snap up a job right away and be off and running. On the other side, the perception is also that Aliyah has never been easier, and that's true. But that doesn't mean it's easy.

The bottom line is that the only way one can find out what reality is, is to experience it for oneself, like I experienced my interaction with that policeman last night. And when you go through something like Aliyah, you will see that not much is what you thought it would be. And that's just fine, because I'll take true experiences over theoretical ones anyday.

Wouldn't you?