Sunday, March 15, 2009

Security Monitoring

"Hello. I am calling from your cell phone company. Can you please give me your name?," said the heavily-accented voice of an Israeli female when I picked up the line.

"Excuse me, who is this?," I said while attempting to swallow a bite of lunch.

"This is your cell phone company. Please tell me your name and where you live," said the voice.

"Oh, of course," I said. "My cell phone company! And why are you calling me?," I said without revealing a thing.

"I am calling because a mysterious call was made to an "022" number. I am calling to make sure that your phone was not stolen."

"Well, I can assure you that my phone is not stolen since I am answering it," I said.

Instantly I knew that the "022" number in question was the call that I made yesterday to my tutor from Bethlehem, the elderly Christian woman who lost her husband two weeks ago.

"Tell me your name and address and how long you will be in Israel," the voice continued.

"I will tell you nothing until you verify for me who you are--your name and an employee number?"

"I cannot tell you this," said the voice. "If you do not cooperate now, I will shut down your line."

"'s some information for you and whoever is listening--my name is Namaste," I said. "And this should be more than enough information for you. If a number was flagged from my line, I can assure you that it was a misdialed number and it will not happen again."

"But what if your phone was stolen? I will need your address confirmed. If you do not give me this, I will shut down your phone."

"Tell you what, my dear," I replied, "I will be happy to give you this information when I call your company to report a stolen phone. But since I have not called to report a stolen phone, you have no need for this information."

She threatened to shut down my phone again as I summarily hung up.

My next call was to the company directly. Yes, my phone line has been blocked until more verification can be made. Apparently, calls to Bethlehem are considered "unusual destinations".

And yes, these calls are flagged by this particular company and monitored by the state.

Welcome to Israel.



Laura said...

Unbelievable. Sad. Scary. Necessary? I hope we never become that.

VJ said...

Predictable, and if they'd just come out and be open enough about it all, marginally more acceptable. But it just never looks good. 'This is the [security service]', 'we need to know more information on this line, as you called this number'.

Now again, not pleasant, and no one needs to be reminded that things are being monitored. But yeah, keeping a close ear on everything? Part of the job description evidently. Over here? They'll not even give you the courtesy of a phone call. They'll just jail you if they're overly suspicious, and have. So telling them you're an 'American born academic' of 'good native stock', (or some such to try and allay some fears), might help. But probably not by much. Again, SSDD. Only more so.

I still say eventually you may want to actually meet with them, or may have to go in for some sort of 'interview'. But certainly have someone in authority lodge a formal protest on your behalf. That won't resolve the issue, but it may very well help on the margins. But the bottom line you already know. You're suspicious because you're there doing what you do.

But then again you wanted to live the exciting life, right? How is this possible without the police/SB/ Keystone Kops or some such chasing you around for a bit? Mack Sennett would be just so proud! Always make it look good, and play it up for the laughs. Tradition being what it is. Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'