The Shmooze

El Al Cracks Down on Israelis With Punctuality Problems

By Nathan Jeffay

  • Print
  • Share Share
iStock Photo

Last week, I went to meet a certain Israeli politician. Her assistant telephoned a few minutes before the scheduled meet time. “Are you on your way?” she asked. “Yes, as scheduled,” I replied, matter-of-factly. She continued her interrogation: “Er, are you going to be on time?”

Why wouldn’t I? Were the roads blocked by her office? Is there a security closure. No. Then it dawned on me — this is just Israel, where punctuality seems to be more of the exception than the rule. So implausible to this assistant was the simple answer that I would arrive as arranged, that she continued her questioning — how was I getting there? What was my precise location? In the end, the only way to reassure her was to say: “Look, I’m British — I grew up being on time.”

When I walked in to the office, the assistant’s colleague greeted me. “You’re British, I heard you would be punctual,” she said, looking at me as if I’m an exotic specimen of human being.

After this strange realization about just how ingrained in Israeli culture lateness has become, I found myself applauding El Al yesterday when I read that it has, at last, started cracking down on the many passengers who think that their duty free shopping is more important than the small matter of scheduled take-off times. The airline has stopped holding flights for people who turn up at the gate late. It has indulged late passengers for too long.

Who knows, maybe as people start missing planes El Al will affect something of a national culture change.

By the way, the politician I went to meet walked in 20 minutes late.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Punctuality, Late, Israelis, El Al

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.