I landed in Israel Wednesday night, Thursday morning I went to the major banks to see if its possible for me to open an account. Out of the four major banks I went to, two were willing to open an account for me despite the fact that I didn’t have any connection to Israel’s National Insurance Institute (Israel’s equivalent to Social Security in America). So, without any proper Israeli identification and only my passport, I now have a place for the army to pay me from day one. And as soon as that salary is placed in my account, I’ll receive an Israeli credit card. Which is convenient because cell phone companies will only accept Israeli credit cards! I used a relative’s card to get around that problem for now.
Speaking of cell phone companies, you can buy a cell phone plan that allows unlimited data, unlimited voice, unlimited text, and even unlimited calls to the United States like a regular domestic phone call, all for less money than any unlimited data/text/voice plan I’ve seen back home. No contracts.
All that went smoothly, and as I rode that wave of good vibes I felt like everything would be a piece of cake at the Ministry of Defense. And in fact, that first appointment at the Ministry of Defense gave me the false impression that I was right. They looked over my documents to make sure everything was OK, and said I was fine to proceed.
Signing up for the IDF, step one: come to Israel. Check. Step two: sign yourself up for 18 months at the Ministry of Defense, check. Step three: Go through Israel’s mind fuc* of a bureaucracy in an attempt to prove one’s Judaism and attain a military visa, long story short, they made me do back flips to procure all sorts of documents to prove I’m Jewish and all while causing me to sweat under a very tight deadline that made me seriously believe I would miss the target and have nothing left to do but go home with my tail between my legs.
Yet, on the day I was ready with literally ANYTHING they could possible ask for, they simply handed to me the letter that I needed without even asking me for ANY documents!
Bureaucrat- “Here, this is your confirmation of Judaism, you can go to the Ministry of Interior with it to get your military Visa.”
Part me of me wanted to ask why I wasn’t asked for those documents I worked so hard for, but the better part of me knew to say nothing, blink a lot, and run away as fast as possible before I faint from the shock of the ease of the situation and relief of getting what I wanted.
I could go into detail with this, but it would only serve to bore you and infuriate me. Suffice it to say, if you want to come to Israel whether its to live or to serve in the army, or just visit long term, you will have your turn with the bureaucracy and they WILL make you their bitc*. At the end of the day, we all go through it here, let that be a comfort to you. Just remember, most of the time it all works out well in the end. And of course, there is a culture of bending rules here, which isn’t as prevalent in America, but works to your advantage in Israel once in a while.
I like that about Israel.
My time so far has taught me that in this country, sometimes, to get something here you have to fight for it. But to fight for something, you have to know what you want. If you don’t know what you want, or how much you want it, you wont be willing to fight and you may not get it. So, you quickly learn whats important to you and what you want and by how much.
This was never really a problem for me back home, I’m the introspective type. So I get a kick out of it here. Humor helps.