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by Rhonda Spivak, Israel, July 14, 2011

Since Israel is one of the leading hi-tech countries of the world,  it should be pretty simple to access the internet here, shouldn’t it?
Well, not exactly. I spent the first three days here trying to get my internet connection fixed. On arriving and seeing it wasn’t working we called Bezeq ‘012’, our internet supplier to ascertain the problem, and after listening to their instructions, connecting the router, turning things off and on to no avail, Bezeq announced that the problem was with Hot (our service provider), and not with them. Of course, after phoning HOT and going through a series of instructions with several people who told us to do the same things we had already done while on the phone with  Bezeq, HOT announced after many frustrating hours that all of the equipment was “takin” [in working order] and the problem was with Bezeq. (We told them that Bezeq said the problem was with HOT, but  to no avail).
I began insisting that someone be sent to the apartment to ascertain where the difficulty was instead of blaming each other. But both Bezeq and HOT refused to do this since they would not send a technician unless it was determined that their company was the source of the problem (does this sound like the chicken and the egg argument?).  By then it was dinner time and since we had spent all day on the phone back and forth we had failed to get groceries(i.e. we had neither chicken nor egg) such that we went out for Chinese food (what any sensible Jewish family does in time of crisis).
Before giving in to our hunger it got to the point where my husband, who is usually a pretty quiet reserved guy, was yelling at the HOT technician asking him if he had read Kafka, since, as he screamed, “I feel like I have  become a character in a Kafka novel !”  
Finally, after I threatened to cancel our Hot service, a different technician said, “The problem is with your Eddie-Max.” We were completely bewildered---what or who the heck is an Eddie-Max (I wondered if it was some sort of Three-D  theatre in Israel).
Eddie-Max, we learned is the name of our router and even though I insisted that HOT must have installed our Eddie Max Router since I had never heard of the company Eddie- Max, HOT insisted that if there was a problem with our Eddie Max I would have to deal with that company directly since HOT couldn't have installed it. Of course, when I phoned the nearest Eddie Max company in Kfar Saba, they said that HOT must have installed it and they don’t send out technicians, but instead I could come to Kfar Saba and bring my router and they’d see if  there was the problem with it. The thought of spending another day driving to Kfar Saba was too much to fathom so we found a local computer technician who charged extra for coming to replace our Eddie-Max.
The next day I was all set to go and work on an edition of the Winnipeg Jewish Review when the phone and internet in the apartment suddenly went out. I fumbled for a cell phone to call HOT to learn that they were having a problem in the whole area and  it would take a while to fix. In the meantime, I realized a  Minister in the Canadian government was scheduled to call me in less than a half an hour and  now I had no land phone. I  got my cell phone to call his office in Canada to explain, but suddenly I heard my cell phone bleep meaning I was out of credit to make the call.  I found another cell phone, but it wasn’t charged. I ran to the town square sweating in the heat of the day to buy more phone credit, relieved to see there was only one person in line ahead of me. Sure enough the Minister called exactly at the moment when my land phone was not working and before I had my cell phone filled with credit. I missed the call. That day was another write off.
The next day I was all set to work on this publication, when all of the power in the apartment went out—nothing worked including the air-conditioner, the fridge, phones, T.V., internet and also  the elevator to get out of the building. I had four hungry kids at the apartment and with the heat, the food in the  fridge was going to spoil. It wasn’t just the apartment where I was  that had a power outage but the whole building. The Israeli electrical company was called in-I knew it would be hours. I gave up. I took the kids to the beach, after descending four flights of stairs in complete darkness (since we couldn’t find our flashlight). By later that evening the power outage was fixed. But I couldn't get to the computer--the kids were playing the new games we had installed after the computer technician had convinced me to upgrade my computer and  had made a side deal with my  11 year old son to install  children's computer games free of charge.
The next day while at the computer getting set to work I realized my internet connection was still extremely slow, even after  replacing my Eddie Max Router.  We called back our technician who checked and said that we must have been  on an old package with HOT or Bezeq or both since the speed of our internet was less than half of what it should be. That meant that I would spend another afternoon on the phone with Bezeq to upgrade the speed of my internet. But there was an unexpected problem. Bezeq wouldn’t access my file, unless I gave the technician my Passport number (since I don’t have an Israeli Identity Card which is what Israelis give to open up an account)  The problem was that my passport number had expired since in Canada after five years a passport  expires and you get a new one with a new number.
It wasn’t good enough for the technician that I could tell him my mother’s maiden name , my visa number, the school I had graduated from—he insisted on my passport number which began with a J, a number which I no longer had. I explained the  absurdity of the situation and finally convinced him to check with a supervisor who agreed to let me access my file, based on my ability to answer the aforementioned skill testing questions.
After a few short minutes, I managed to upgrade my internet speed  and also recieved a special Bezeq discount which saved me about $10.00, -- all of which made me so happy that I decided to write this article. That is notwithstanding that I have just discovered that all of my phone jacks except for one are NOT working and that tomorrow I have to call back Bezeq to see if they will send a technician down to fix them !!!  
Although there is a silver lining to all of this which is that I did find out that the phone that I bought last summer  that I thought was not working is in fact working--since it was the phone jack that was the problem all along not the phone.
But there’s more. Along the way, I found a partly completed article below that I wrote last summer about trying to access internet from the Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem which readers may find rather humourous.
By Rhonda Spivak, June 2010
Arriving at the Leonardo Inn in Jerusalem for a cousin’s wedding last June 2010, I was pleased to see that the hotel offered wireless internet for a fee.  I went to connect, and when it didn’t work, Moussa, a dark haired Arab hotel clerk at the  reception was eager to  explain. “It’s a problem with your computer, it’s not working,” he pronounced quickly. I wasn’t buying Moussa’s diagnosis and insisted that my computer was in good shape. He next said I should go wait in my room and he would connect me with a technician from some 1-800 number  who would call directly to my room.  I’ve been to Israel enough times to know that it is never a prudent idea to go to your room and wait for a phone call. Chances are the call will never arrive.
I refused to go to my room and told Moussa that he could talk to the technician and sort it out. Moussa decided to invest more energy in the problem and began diligently working on it, since sure enough no one from the technical support 1-800 line returned Moussa’s call. (As an aside, had I gone up to my room I wouldn’t have received the supposed telephone call anyway, because the phone in my room, which sat on the night table was not connected to anything, a matter which necessitated  further attention. When the phone itself was finally connected, there were numerous numbers to press for the lobby, the pool, etc.,  but when I did press them, none of them connected me to anything).
A half an hour later, just as Moussa appeared to be making some progress on my illusive internet connection, a Madricha (leader) of a large group of kids on a  Birthright Tour came up to the front desk with a 100 page fax that she said needed to be sent out right away. I wish I had had my camera on me to photograph the look on Moussa’s face as she started assembling the 100 pages. He called the manager, who told the women that it would not be possible for them to send 100 pages as Moussa had to attend to other duties and in any event they didn’t have an industrial strength fax machine. In the meantime, Moussa had stopped working on my still illusive internet connection,as he awaited judgment of how many pages of her  fax he would have to send. The manager said they could send no more than 10 pages of the fax and as the Madricha (the “faxer”)  began deciding which 10 pages to send, I pled with the manager to allow Moussa (the “faxee”) to keep working on my internet connection.
Another hour later, Moussa succeeded in getting a connection and I paid 125 shekel (about $35.00)  for four days of internet. Sure enough I almost got connected to the internet. I say almost because the hotel’s  internet system required me to register my particulars including passport number ,but  after dutifully  entering this information, the said information kept being mysteriously deleted three times in a row.
After finally succeeding, I trotted off to my room gleefully to access the internet. Or so I thought.  Until I realized that my three pronged plug from Canada would not fit  into the two pronged outlet in my room.
I wish I could have photographed the expression on Moussa’s face when he saw me back at the reception five minutes later.  No, he informed me, the hotel didn’t sell adapters, although it appeared that I was far from the first customer to ask. He rifled through the drawer at the reception promising me that he had one adapter left.  The manager had left, and the gift shop at the hotel next door which sold adapters was closed for the evening. 
By later that evening, Moussa had found an adapter and things worked smoothly for the next day and a half. Unfortunately, after  two of the four days of internet, the connection ran out. I decided to do without, even though I had been short changed. I figured it would just be easier to get to the next hotel and access the internet from there....
Little did I know that at my next  accommodation in Kibbutz Shavei Zion  near Nahariya wouldn't work--its wasn't just my room, but it was all of the rooms in the entire Kibbutz Hotel. I was only  there two nights, but after explaining that  I had to publish my next edition of the Winnipeg Jewish Review, I convinced the  night manager to let me use his office computer  as long as no one else saw me using it. This plan worked for about an hour, until other guests found me using it and began complaining that they wanted a turn....
My next dsitination was Kibbutz Manara,  at the top of a mountain right on the border with Lebanaon--where I would have thought that wireless internet would have been easy to get since I figured it was so close to the border there would be lots of  solid connections (so Israel could spy on Hezbollah).  I got to my  room  and the wireless internet didn't work...I was desperate. Although I couldn't get internet, I did manage to find out that Yitzhak Rabin's sister lived on the Kibbutz and swam in the pool about eight o'clock every morning. It might have been a good idea to get to the pool at that hour and meet her or try to interview her, but I couldn't as I was still searching for an internet connection. I was told there was wireless internet in the small diningroom in the kibbutz, which was so high up it felt like a little tree house suspended in mid air. Like goldilocks, I tried out every chair in the dining room hoping I could  find  a spot where the  wireless intenret worked. I finally found one (and only one) spot in a chair near the corner of the diningroom where I could get internet and I quickly began to edit  the next edition of the Winnipeg Jewish Review which was to be sent out  two hours later.  I worked for an hour until the  kibbutznik running  breakfast told me the diningroon was now closed ! I pleaded with her to let me stay in my spot so  I could get out my next edition. She thankfully agreed.
In the meantime, as I  finished up editing just in time, I began to wonder about  Mousa and how many pages of the 100 page fax he had managed to send out.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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