It is so wired… wrongly wired

Only in Israel: Personally Delivered SMS – straight from the Shabak

At first glance it looked like a foolish error – or the now so common tech firms’ scam.

Iris received a short SMS from Bezeq, informing that her time of reduced pay for fast internet connection will soon be over, and that, starting October 13, she will pay 120.97 shekel monthly.

sms from bezek - renewal

Misdirected SMS

The first question that came to her mind was, of course, for how long she was already paying for Bezeq “services” without her knowledge, as she never even requested their service to connect to the net? So she immediately called Bezeq and they checked her id number, and checked her telephone number, and checked my id number and my telephone number, and promised that they don’t hold these numbers in their databases and never charged us anything.

Somewhat relieved, Iris reread the short note carefully and noticed that the telephone number of the client that was mentioned there was not her number… But that number seemed familiar; it was the number of a comrade from Tel Aviv.

Iris called the comrade and it came out that she was connected through Bezeq, and that her special agreement was really due to expire sometime soon. She thanked Iris for informing her that she should take care before her monthly pay will be automatically hiked.

Scrolling up in the same SMS application, Iris found that she also received a message from Bezeq in March, concerning the expected visit of a technician. The comrade from Tel Aviv recalled that she really applied for the technician to come and was disappointed with Bezeq that promised to send her a message but their message never arrived…

Simple explanation

Well, you might think that the numbers are somewhat similar and it could be a simple typo, but they are not similar in any way. They differ by almost all digits… And Iris’s number was never registered in Bezeq’s database anyway, so there is no way that Bezeq could have made this mistake.

But Bezeq is only the first station on the SMS’s Via Dolorosa. Before it could land in the comrade’s phone it had to pass by the Shabak’s office and have a short chat with a Tonton Macoute wearing black glasses. After it explains itself and proves its innocence and good intentions, the SMS is kicked out and rolls all the way down to its original destination… or to another comrade, as there are so few Jewish leftists and they all look the same.

Retrospective view

This wired experience reminded us of the eighties and nineties of the previous century…

It was not rare up then to have your phone ringing, or raise the phone’s receiver to make a call, and hear a conversation by some comrades in other towns around the country, who thought they were speaking just between themselves. We would then curse the Shabak for using such old leaky wires in their wiretapping centers.

On a second thought, the new SMS misdirection errors may be just the teething problems of a new Artificial Intelligence start-up that was hired to catch the data balls in the air and throw them on in almost real-time. We really shouldn’t be angry with the novice techies for not yet recognizing all the old comrades by their names and phone numbers.

Message from the Shabak Caricature

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Security Affair… in the Kindergarten

The following – completely true – short story is dedicated to all those people that are longing for the “democratic past” of Israel under “Mapai”.

In the middle Seventies, I was active in “The Workers’ League”, a small organization of the radical left that split from the famous “Matzpen”.

Two of our comrades were a couple of new immigrants from France. They came as Zionists but soon were disillusioned and became active in the Anti-Zionist organization. At the time that our story begins, the wife was working in a kindergarten that provided special care for children with Autism.

At the time there were not many institutions caring for these children. The kindergarten, in West Jerusalem, was affiliated to a local hospital. Our comrade was a specialist in her profession and did her best to help the children. She was loved by the management, the children and their parents.

Then, for some bureaucratic reason, the responsibility for the kindergarten was transferred from the ministry of health to the ministry of education.

As every Arab teacher knew very well at the time, in the ministry of education the last word about all appointments was given to the almighty Shin Bet – the Israeli secretive “internal security services”.

It came out that the Shin Bet’s authority didn’t spare Jewish teachers also, even not a kindergarten teacher that cared for autistic children. As soon as the ministry of education took control of the institution they informed the management that the leftist teacher should be immediately fired from her job.Dangerous_teacher

Finding a new qualified teacher for the hard task was not easy or fast, but the security authorities in the ministry refused even a temporary stay of execution until a replacement could be found. The parents faced a real problem also, as they couldn’t send their kids to the kindergarten without a teacher. Many of them had to skip work and stay at home. They organized a protest of their own, but, of course, their selfishness will not deter those responsible for the state’s security from fulfilling their sacred task.

All this was regular “no news” in the “Jewish democracy” under the “leftist” Labor Party. I wouldn’t waste your time with it unless there was a strange twist in the plot.

The teacher’s husband’s father happened to be one of the leaders of the Jewish community in France. When he heard the story he thought it is too foolish to be true. He didn’t support his son’s and daughter in law’s political activity in any way. But he thought that there is no reason that the teacher will be removed from work in a kindergarten where she obviously couldn’t have any subversive influence on the kids…

He remembered that he has a good friend. They went together to the same school and were active together in the Zionist movement. His friend made “Aliya” long time ago. By the time of our story his friend was already a pretty important minister in the Israeli government.

So he called his friend and told him of the extraordinary senseless persecution of his daughter in law. The minister quickly agreed that this doesn’t make sense and promised to speak with the responsible people and solve the problem.

The old French Jewish leader waited for a few days to hear from his minister-friend. There was no news. He tried to call him, but his good friend, untypically, was not answering his calls. He left messages in his office and home – but couldn’t get any response.

It was only a long time later when the two old leaders met by chance… The question of returning the daughter in law to her job was not relevant any more. The Israeli minister came to his old French friend and apologized: “I really tried. I did my best. But, you know, it was a security issue. I couldn’t do anything about it!”