Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Cheshvan 5760 - October 27, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Point of View

Turbine Totalitarianism

By Professor Yitzchak Segal

Many years ago, an ATA (an Israeli textile firm) employee turned to his friend, a religious engineer, and told him that the factory did its maintenance work on Shabbos. The pretext was that because the factory was inactive on Shabbos, the machines could be fixed without interfering with the production process. The engineer did not do maintenance and did not work on Shabbos, but it bothered him that his livelihood was dependant on chillul Shabbos.

This engineer gathered a group of shomrei Shabbos engineers and discussed the topic. After much deliberation, they asked the owner of ATA, then Mr. Hans Muller, to re- examine the issue of doing maintenance on Shabbos. Mr. Muller agreed.

The group visited the factory, analyzed the situation and proposed a maintenance plan based on preventive care while the factory was in operation and closing it down for small periods in the course of the work week.

Mr. Muller was impressed. A calculation of costs showed that the plan was practical and economical. A significant factor in cutting costs was the fact that maintenance workers received two days vacation for working on Shabbos in addition to a higher salary for working overtime. An additional component was better supervision of the workers; the managers were only there during the week.

Muller decided to implement the plan. The maintenance workers announced a strike, and the rest of the workers followed as well, due to "worsening of work conditions."

The transportation specialists of the Roads Authority and the police, enriched us with a street system that is nothing more than a trap that is constantly and periodically blocked by some overturned vehicle. After receiving a well-placed hint from someone, they were able to present their educated opinion that there is dire danger in blocking the roads to the hospitals, G-d forbid. I myself, as well as thousands of others, were trapped for five to six hours in Tel Aviv due to the Peace Convention conducted in Rabin Square. Then, those experts did not present their educated opinion nor speak about the danger, the hospitals or the inconvenience.

Incidentally, the cost of transporting the turbine parts alone is about a million dollars. Who planned its production and transportation anyhow? A wiser engineer would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by not requiring such unusual -- and expensive -- transportation arrangements. I would not be surprised if the police and the Road Authority want the transport on Shabbos to reward police and extra workers with extra payment for overtime.

The judicial celebration also begs explanation. In one of its totalitarian rulings, the High Court of Justice (perhaps High Court of Totalitarians is more appropriate) ruled that an officer or government worker cannot represent himself in court. The only ones permitted to do so are the government's legal advisers or attorneys. It has thereby become accepted that if the attorneys themselves have a particular political- social stance, they are free to present it to the High Court even against the will of the defendant.

It is interesting that these collective ideas are called "justice." What justice is there in sealing mouths? What happened to freedom of speech, human rights and all the rest?

The lawyers chose the police's exclusive opinion, and the circle was closed. The High Court refused to hear any other argument, and any other opinion was immediately quashed. The path was paved and the steamroller advanced steadily towards the outlook of the lawyers and judicial body.

And then came the sign! The "defenders" of the law burst out in song and dance on the roof tops and streets, flooding the media, telling us about the supremacy of the law and "justice," which is merely the crookedness of individual government officials.

It is told about Ben Gurion that when a certain settlement was being planned, a professional raised doubts about the desirability of some agricultural treatment. Ben Gurion said, "What's the problem? Just get a different professional!"

I propose to carefully scrutinize the expertise and professional decisions of the police and lawyers.

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