Thursday, May 5, 2011

Paperworking in BC & World Blindness

After spending 2+ weeks in Hadar’s place in Kirkland, WA, my apartment was ready for move-in. Excited for finally having a place in Vancouver that I can call “home”, it didn’t take me more than a couple of days to transfer all of my belongings from the U-Haul storage to my apartment. Fully furnished apartment (I didn’t carry any furniture with me from Ontario), belonging to fantastic landlords—guess I got lucky. Few days later, I already had everything set up.

Looking over the city and the water from the comfort of my own home, through the decently-sized den with floor-to-ceiling windows… I finally felt like mission has been accomplished. I’m finally living here.

That, however, was the easier part of the story; much more annoying and horrendously tiring wasn’t about the move itself, but its consequences.

Canada, similar to the USA, is a confederation, composed of provinces (you can think of a “province” being the Canadian equivalent to a “state” in the USA). There are, therefore, two layers of government in Canada—the provincial layer (each province has its own) and the federal layer (overseeing the provincial governments and providing services, or facilities, that are common to all provinces).

Many countries in the world (notably The Netherlands—so many people, for example, don’t know that Holland is not the country’s name but rather the name of one province in The Netherlands; Germany is another good example) are divided to so-called “provinces”, however, to the best of my knowledge, in most of these countries there still is one layer of government.

So guess what. Turns out that moving from one province to another isn’t as easy as one might think. In hindsight, this isn’t much less complex than immigration. The process, for me, was almost as tiring as the process of naturalizing in Canada some eight years before… and every bit as emotionally taxing.

If you’re a Canadian moving to another location in your own city, you have to get used to new neighbours and, in some cases, to new bylaws that pertain to their new community. When you move to another city in your province, it’s not that much different.

But when you move to a new province… the process is far more complex. Think about it as moving to a new country, but still preserving the right to vote. Now you have to deal with so many other things:

  • You have to switch your driver’s license. Driver licensing is different from one province to another; once you move from one province to another, you have a limited period during which you must convert your driver’s license otherwise you are essentially driving without a license.
  • If Lady Luck brings you to Vancouver with your car, well, prepare for some good degree of aggravation. Cars moving into Vancouver (and other big cities in British Columbia) must be “certified” by local authorities, for safety as well as emission. If you own an old car, prepare to get rid of quite a few dollars during the process. And no; the emission test you had done in Ontario aren’t worth rats’ asses here in Vancouver—they do it on an annual basis here, rather than bi-annually, and they are strict.
  • Car insurance: each province, believe it or not, has its own laws and regulations for car insurance. While car insurance in Ontario has long before been privatized, it is still government-regulated in British Columbia (rates are actually much cheaper here). You must do whatever’s necessary to move to the government-run insurance program, as your extra-provincial insurance is only valid here for one month.
  • Health insurance: that “universal healthcare” that everybody’s talking about in the USA, has been existing in Canada for many years. Each Canadian resident is entitled for government-run health insurance (with the ability to “top it up” privately, of course), but coverage and fees vary from one province to another. It gets to really absurd levels. For example, in Ontario, residents pay for health insurance through their annual tax returns, while in British Columbia, you get a bill sent to you by mail every month—and it is expensive here.
  • If you have your own business and you are incorporated… oh my. Now that’s another level of aggravation that I’d be very happy to not have to deal with. Corporations are actual legal entity and so you have to “move” them too—talk about so many forms you have to file and payments you have to pay.

And so many other little things…

Now, amongst my so many shortcomings as a human being (in general) and as a man (in particular), may I also let you know that I have very little patience towards stupidity and inefficiencies. I can’t help but wondering why the HELL an already-horrendous process such as moving must involve so much paperwork, co-ordination with people, phone calls and whatnot.

For once, it sort-of gives me the feeling of being followed. The Big Brother wants to know exactly where you are at any point in time. Heck, the government must know exactly in which of Canada’s millions of square kilometers you had chosen to park your ass on a nightly basis—and not only that, they also threaten you (“if you don’t switch to our driver’s license, you won’t be able to drive”).

Second, give me a break. Seems to me that governments and bureaucracy haven’t really caught up with the advent of technology and its primary consequence—that of people being more mobile, with more options open for them. People now relocate far, far more frequently than 40 years ago and still, governance-wise, we are still in the vivid 1970’s (although music is nowhere near as meaningful).

The result of all of this nonsense: it wasn’t before the beginning of April—almost three months after I left Ontario—when I finally got absolutely everything sorted out, much thanks to governmental inefficiencies.

Friday evening, March 11. A Jewish family of eight seated for a traditional Friday evening gathering—a Kiddush (Wikipedia:, which is a Jewish ritual welcoming the Sabbath. The father, Udi Fogel, 36 y/o; the mother, Ruth, 35 y/o; and their six kids—Tamar (12 y/o), Yoav (11), Roi (6), Elad (4), Yishai (2) and Hadas (infant; 3 months old).

I am Jewish, yet not a practicing one. I am not much into religion at all as I am not really bothered with deep existential ponderings. Who or what had created this universe—really, I have better things to do with my time; what I did borrow from Judaism, though, is its values. Family values; how to behave in society; compassion. I am entirely uninterested in finding out who’s running the show from up above (or down below).

While I am no expert in Jewish rituals, I do know that Friday night rituals are all about family time. Sitting for dinner with the entire family, enjoying the presence of one another and thanking The Master for whatever it is he (or she) was kind enough to provide us with.

I am sure, then, that March 11’s Friday evening gathering wasn’t unusual for the Fogel family. At some point, meal was over and family members were all already busy with their own lives. Tamar (the 12 y/o) went out with her youth friends, the rest remained at home.

That Friday night outing saved her life.

When Tamar went home at around midnight, she found five of her seven family members stabbed to death: both her parents and three of her siblings were brutally stabbed—yes, including the 3 months old infant who was stabbed right in her head. Her other two brothers were alive; in hindsight, their lives were spared in error (from the murderers’ perspective) as the two had miraculously went unnoticed.

News about the massacre broke all throughout Israeli media; one of the many Palestinian terrorist groups, active in the West Bank, took responsibility. The next morning, celebrations broke in the city of Gaza: the murder of five Israelis was, evidently, a good reason to celebrate (link:

Shocking, isn’t it. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had never heard about it. After all, these weren’t “normal” Israelis. They were a family of what mass worldwide media refers to as “settlers”—allegedly, Jewish people who settled on land that some insane people around the world, used to kiss Arab oil’s ass, refer to as “stolen” (thank you, “civilized” western Europe).

When the two murderers were captured—one 18, the other 19 years old (!)—they provided their detailed account of the massacre. Want some chills? get this, quoted from Wikipedia (

(After killing everyone but the baby, the murderers left; then) Amjad then re-entered the Fogel home to steal another weapon. When the 3-month old baby began crying, Amjad stabbed her in the head, fearing the cries would attract attention.

On April 17, 2011, two Palestinians who had been arrested during the Israeli investigation were identified as the suspected killers. The suspects, Amjad Mahmad Awad, 19, and Hakim Mazen Awad, 18, were both affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.The Israeli authorities state that both suspects confessed to the killings and offered a detailed description that Shin Bet (the Israeli’s general security service, commonly dealing with internal security affairs, as opposed to the Mossad which deals with international affairs) officers called one of the most “shocking, cold, remorseless, and detailed” descriptions they had ever come across. Both teens also participated in a re-enactment that a Shin Bet officer described as “chilling”. During their interrogations, neither expressed remorse, and Amjad said that he had gone to Itamar to die as a martyr.

In the spring of 2010, a ship full of “humanitarian aid” was sailing on its way to the Gaza strip. The Gaza strip is under Israeli military siege, which has been in force ever since Hamas—an organization that is considered a terrorist organization even by the European Union (which isn’t exactly known as a pro-Israeli entity)—took government there by force.

Despite Israeli authorities’ repetitive requests to route the humanitarian aid through Israeli channels (that is, have goods inspected in Israel first, and then rerouted to the Gaza strip by trucks), the people on the ship weren’t much into complying and decided to head straight into Gaza.

Israeli military then decided to seize control of the ship. Having been misinformed that the ship is filled with peaceful unarmed people, the ship has not been attacked by regular military force; instead, soldiers were landed by helicopters onto the ship, to the awaiting “peaceful” crowd.

Seconds afterwards, violence broke. Turned out that the ship was occupied by some Turkish organization called IHH, which was armed. Attempts to lynch the Israeli soldiers commenced, but whoever had the pleasure of dealing with Israeli military before knows that such attempts wouldn’t go unanswered. The result: 9 armed Turkish “humanitarians” killed.

The media coverage for the event was immense. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting somebody holding a newspaper covering the “great massacre” conducted by Israeli military upon “innocent humanitarians”.

As far as mass media was concerned, then, the blood of 9 armed terrorists who had assaulted and tried lynching Israeli soldiers is worth far more than the blood of five innocent family members, including a 3 months old baby.

November 5, 1995. Weather-wise, a normal November morning in Israel; mostly sunny, humid, not too hot though. Yours truly was still enjoying worry-free high-school living. Yet another morning of studies, which would be completely normal had it not been the morning right after prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination.

Back then, I had no political opinions (as far as I can recall). The assassination changed everything as I began opening my eyes and realizing that living isn’t as easy as it seems. I was attracted to Israel’s political left, believing everyone should just shut the hell up and live in peace. Being naive and sensitive to criticism, I used to reflect a lot about what Israelis might not be doing right.

Some ten years later, in the summer of 2005, Israel has unilaterally withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, following a plan devised by no other than Ariel Sharon, who is by no means anything even remotely considered dovish (in Israel’s history, Ariel Sharon is known to be the one who originally promoted and drove what today are called “settlements”). I remember back then being supportive of this, as I somehow got into thinking that Israeli settlement in so-called “stolen land” is the root of all evil.

Thousands of Israeli people were forcibly relocated from their homes, farms, communities—forced to relocate to Israel’s interior, neglecting everything behind, in order to “show to the world” that Israel is really “serious about peace”.

Everything changed for me, though, as soon as terrorism once again raised its ugly head. I guess it was then when I finally realized that Islamic terrorism has absolutely nothing to do with land conflicts. Also, living outside Israel for so many years already has shown me how partial media coverage can be and allowed a more in-depth look into world politics and what really motivates the masses.

Religion sucks, and religions that advocate killing people suck worse.

And I guess nothing would be more fitting to end this post with this:



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