Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Israel Driving To the Right

On Our Way to Ashdod and Beyond:  Well, here we are. We have entered the month of August in the year 2020 (of the Common Era). We are (mostly) stuck at home while the coronavirus pandemic works its way around the world.

And, G-d willing אי״ה Ken O'Hara pt pt pt
during this month, Abq Jew will turn 70.

During these 70 good years, Abq Jew has made many promises - and has fulfilled, Abq Jew believes, a pretty good number of them. But there is one promise that Abq Jew made to you, his loyal readers, that he has not yet fulfilled.

Back in 2011 (see Rejoicing Again) and again in 2012 (see A Message From PBS), Abq Jew stated, for the record:

Abq Jew will check with his legal team and his agents,
and will share
The Greatest Pun Ever Told,
which Abq Jew did indeed tell at (no pun intended)
Tel Ashdod in the Summer of 1968
, with you -
just as soon as the trademarks and copyrights
are secured, and the book and movie rights
are nailed down. Yes, it's that good.

Just a hint, and a tiny forschbite of what is to come G-d willing אי״ה Ken O'Hara pt pt pt, perhaps even next week.

It has something to do with archaeology.

But first- let's take a ride on the southern portion of Israel's Coastal Highway 4.

Highway 4 (Hebrew: כּֽבִישׁ אַרְבַּע, Kvish Arba' ) is an Israeli highway that runs along Israel's entire coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea, from the Rosh HaNikra border crossing with Lebanon in the North to the Erez Border Crossing with the Gaza Strip in the South. [205.2 km; 127.5 miles]
Oy! Oy! Oy! 50 years ago, in Old Israel, Abq Jew and his parents, of blessed memory, used to make this trip in our brand-new VW bug from Ashkelon (where they had an apartment on Simtat HaSneh) to Tel Aviv (where the action was) all the time. No "Highway 4." Just a road.

Lots of trucks, few cars (who except an עולה חדשׁ could afford one?). And not too many signs. We just sorta found our way.

So anyway. Abq Jew was watching the car ride on Highway 4, eyes tearing over with nostalgia, when the Big Question hit him:

Why do Israelis 
drive on the right side of the road?

To every one of you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, who answered

Because otherwise
they'd be on the wrong side of the road.

Abq Jew says

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Perhaps - just perhaps - Abq Jew's work here has been at least marginally successful. Perhaps - just perhaps - Abq Jew's work here has not been for naught. Perhaps - just perhaps.

However. Abq Jew was, in fact, referring to the historical anomaly that the State of Israel was, for many years, part of British Mandatory Palestine. You know - like Britain, where they all drive on the left (because they know it's right). They drive clockwise around traffic circles, too, which is why they call them circuses.

And, Abq Jew must point out (for the sake of historical completeness), in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (which was separated from Eretz Yisrael in 1920) they also drive on the right.

For more information about just how all this came to pass, Abq Jew strongly recommends the Wikipedia entries for Mandatory Palestine, Sykes-Picot AgreementBalfour Declaration, and Partition of the Ottoman Empire.

For Abq Jew's view of these events, Abq Jew recommends his 2012 blog post 5 Years, 65 Years, 19 Years and his remarkably similar 2017 blog post 10 Years, 70 Years, 24 Years.

For an even stronger background of all this, Abq Jew further recommends the Wikipedia entries for Gallipoli Campaign and Zion Mule Corps (Jewish Legion).

If you still have the strength, Abq Jew must point you to With the Zionists in Gallipoli, Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson's 1916 account of the Zion Mule Corps, which he led.

And about whom he writes:
My chief object in writing this book is to interest the Hebrew nation in the fortunes of the Zionists and show them of what their Russian brothers are capable, even under the command of an alien in race and religion.
 And yes, Abq Jew is a proud owner of that 1916 edition.

Oh yeah -

Why do Israelis drive on the right side of the road?

Why does anybody drive on the left side of the road, as about 35% of the world population does? The World Standards website explains.
In the past, almost everybody travelled on the left side of the road because that was the most sensible option for feudal, violent societies. 
Since most people are right-handed, swordsmen preferred to keep to the left in order to have their right arm nearer to an opponent and their scabbard further from him. Moreover, it reduced the chance of the scabbard (worn on the left) hitting other people. 
Furthermore, a right-handed person finds it easier to mount a horse from the left side of the horse, and it would be very difficult to do otherwise if wearing a sword (which would be worn on the left). 
It is safer to mount and dismount towards the side of the road, rather than in the middle of traffic, so if one mounts on the left, then the horse should be ridden on the left side of the road.
So then what happened?

Enter the Teamsters.
In the late 1700s, however, teamsters in France and the United States began hauling farm products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. These wagons had no driver’s seat; instead the driver sat on the left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to lash the team. 
Since he was sitting on the left, he naturally wanted everybody to pass on the left so he could look down and make sure he kept clear of the oncoming wagon’s wheels. Therefore he kept to the right side of the road.
Isn't this fascinating?

Nobody wanted to go against the Teamsters. Suddenly, driving on the right side of the road became the thing to do. Soon, everyone (except, of course, our old friends the British) was heading to the right side of the roadway.

Including Turkey and its trucks.

Oops! Wrong photo!

Including Turkey and its trucks.

The first trucks to arrive in Israel (then Greater Syria) came from - you guessed it! - Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire). When the British arrived, and stayed, and stayed, and stayed, they left things the way they were. In a manner of speaking, of course.

And then there's Cyprus.

Cyprus was placed under British administration based on the Cyprus Convention - a secret agreement between Great Britain and Ottoman Empires - in 1878, and was formally annexed by Great Britain in 1914. Cyprus was granted independence in 1960. And then, Wikipedia tells us
The crisis of 1963–64 brought further intercommunal violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, which displaced more than 25,000 Turkish Cypriots into enclaves and brought the end of Turkish Cypriot representation in the republic. 
On 15 July 1974, a coup d'état was staged by Greek Cypriot nationalists and elements of the Greek military junta in an attempt at enosis, the incorporation of Cyprus into Greece. 
This action precipitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July, which led to the capture of the present-day territory of Northern Cyprus in the following month, after a ceasefire collapsed, and the displacement of over 150,000 Greek Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots.
A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration in 1983; the move was widely condemned by the international community, with Turkey alone recognising the new state. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of a continuing dispute.
In the current era, drivers in both the Republic of [Greek] Cyprus and [Turkish Occupied] Northern Cyprus drive on the left. Yes, drivers in Greece and Turkey drive on the right. The British thought they were in Cyprus to stay, so they didn't leave things the way they were. In a manner of speaking, of course.

On the Road to Tel Ashdod and
The Greatest Pun Ever Told.

Perhaps even next week!

Billy Nader

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