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Hitchhiking War

Don't board a tremp randomly, the driver may be a terrorist disguised as a religious Jew
from Halakha for the Trempist, Rabbi Abiner



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In the first foggy days of what may become WWIII, when former hidden-friends are apparently nuking each other above and below the water, a much more significant, though overlooked, war is going on in Israel; the Hitchhiking War threatens to ruin what is left of IDF trempiadot.


Hebrew/Arabic slang can get amusing. The word "tremp" was adopted from German "trampen" and refers to "hitchhiking." Being impossible to conjugate it according to Hebrew rules, "trempiada" was the unlikely word created to denote a hitchhiking station. Trempiadot is its plural.

Kiryat Gat Trempiada

Kiryat Gat Trempiada
An Old Man's Rules for Hitchhiking

The iconic Question Mark Trempiadot are the most visible action of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. These are fortified concrete constructions with heavy metal bars in front of them, so that soldiers have a shelter while waiting for a tremp. Intentional accidents happen; these trempiadot block them. Question Mark Trempiadot are the only places were soldiers are allowed to hitchhike, though probably this is the most disobeyed order in the IDF.

Kiryat Gat Trempiada

Kiryat Gat Trempiada
On the Road: The Original Scroll


The title of the article is not an exaggeration. The IDF provides transport only to and from large bases, mainly within the "Iron Triangle."* Soldiers often move in areas without public transport and are forced to hitchhike. They are favored targets.

On February 16, 1989, two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Saadon, were kidnapped and later killed by Hamas militants, in what was the first high-profile operation of this organization. In October 1994, Nachshon Wachsman suffered a similar fate. One of the Sayeret Matkal commando soldiers attempting to free him, Team Commander Nir Poraz, was also killed. In their quiet, questioning way, trempiadot are a war front.

Bus Station Poster in Israel

"Don't Catch a Tremp, It Can Catch You!"
Bus Station Poster in Israel

Related: Chemical Duel



On June 4, 2013, Yediot Ahronot, Hebrew largest paid-newspaper, published the trempiada pictures opening this article. The images were taken near Kiryat Gat, where the central semi-arid zone becomes the southern desert. The swastika is easily recognizable. Following a complaint, Chief Superintendent Ofer Shumer of the town's police station said: "We view such expressions of hatred with the utmost severity and we shall employ all available means to track down the perpetrators."

I couldn't avoid taking a close look at the Hebrew texts, which kept amusing surprises. The only text that looks written by a native speaker is the half-deleted red one. However, its text is half-Hebrew half-Arabic, stating "Arabs (are) Prostitutes;" the last word is in Arabic written with Hebrew characters, though it is a word used colloquially by Hebrew-speakers. The word "Arabs" was deleted in black and near it was written "The Jews" and an arrow was added linking the new graffiti with the word "Prostitutes." The hand that wrote this is confident and used to write from right-to-left, but the letters are a bit askew. They could have been written by Palestinians, as the newspaper claims.

The graffiti at the top shows a similarly simplistic message. "Death to Arabs" was deleted, "Death to Jews" was written, with askew letters. The writer didn't learn how to properly draw the letters (the odd "tav" was almost for sure written by an Arabic speaker).

Until here, this is expected and, sadly, common. Yet, the graffiti on the right side, is worth gold. It reads "Son of a Prostitute." The letters were written by someone who seems to ignore the different height of Hebrew letters (note the tiny lamed; no native Hebrew writer will keep it at the same height as other letters). The text is also peculiar. Neither Hebrew speakers nor Arabic ones will say "Son of a Prostitute," skipping the proper possessive. "Prostitute's Son" would be the favored form. The long form used belongs to a foreign speaker. In the far past, I heard this mistaken phrase time and again uttered by Russians, who refused to accept the sweet delicacies of Semitic languages. After the 1990s Russian immigration, Kiryat Gat became practically a suburb of Moscow. The hottest New Moscow in the world, worldwide renown exporter of hate-graffiti.

Previet, Gospodin Lieberman, what's up in Mother Moldova?

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* The Iron Triangle is a mocking reference to the virtual triangle drawn by the HaKirya, Tel Hashomer and Tzrifin IDF bases, all of them in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan area. These are the main administrative centers of the IDF. It is said that once a soldier enters there it will never leave the area, thus the name.

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