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Quit beatin' on the meter men

by michael July 07 2008
Municipal news

meter70208.JPG It ain't easy being a downtown driver in Jerusalem. The traffic infrastructure, dating in large part back to the days when Jerusalemites were far more likely to travel by donkey than car, can't support the sheer number of motorists. Major thoroughfares are closed to public traffic, meaning that to get from point A to point B downtown, drivers usually have to travel by way of point Q. Roads that once bore vehicles are being chopped up and repurposed as pedestrian promenades. Construction never ends. And public parking is usually impossible to find, with the few garages and metered spaces (increasingly rare due to the pro-pedestrian initiatives) becoming scenes of stiff competition. Essentially, the city is squeezing drivers out of downtown, and in a land ruled by quick Mediterranean tempers, rage over the decreased availability of parking is an almost inevitable result. Much of that rage has been unfairly directed at the city's parking inspection officials, whose zealous enforcement of parking statutes has led to nearly one hundred attacks on their persons from angry drivers in 2007 alone - nine of which resulted in medical treatment.

After a recent meter reader assault brutal enough to attract the attention of all the Hebrew dailies, Jerusalem resident Rami Tahan was thrown into jail for ten months. Tahan, parked illegally on Radak Street, was approached by inspector Yaniv Sagiv, who began to write a ticket. Tahan asked Sagiv not to, and then, cheekily, asked him to let him keep the car parked there a few more minutes. Naturally, both requests were refused. Tahan began yelling, which led Sapir to report him to his supervisor and request support from fellow inspector Nati Halfa, also in the area. The men again tried to serve Tahan his ticket, at which point Tahan punched Sagiv, grabbed his ticket book and ripped it in half. Then, apparently feeling like a big man, Tahan began shouting "Ani shahid!" ("I am a martyr!'), threw a few more punches, and then drew an iron bar from his car and began wailing on Sagiv with it, bruising his face and breaking his teeth and little finger. Meanwhile, Halfa grabbed an extra pipe from Tahan's car and used it to defend his partner, earning himself wounds on the face and body in return.

Hey, admittedly, nobody likes a meter reader. But that still doesn't mean we should ever beat them with pipes. So please, if you see one ticketing your car, resist the urge of those dozens of other Jerusalemites to attack. Remember: often, people who park illegally contribute to snarled traffic in the city. So if you have to rain blows down on someone, make it them.

Photo courtesy of adamtrd under a creative commons license.

 

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