Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to be Israeli

Israelis are a strange, yet wonderful group of people. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a similar group anywhere in the world. But they're just people, doing what they do, the way they do it. They have their quirks and that's okay, but I want to try to humanize them and laugh about some of things I deal with on a daily basis (just on my commute). I think we lose sight of the fact that they're human.

1. Its hot, buy sandals. Israelis love sandals. So much so that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) issue women sandals.

2. Its bright, buy really expensive designer sunglasses, the bigger the better. Then never wear them, except pushed on top of your head.

3. Do you Vespa? They do.

4. Learn Hebrew. Otherwise they look at you funny. Not in the 'You-must-be-Iranian-Way' but the 'Oh-I-Thought-You-Were-One-of-Us' way. (I dare somebody to find to stereotype of what an Israeli looks like, besides tan)

5. Get tan.

6. Its okay to shout at people, they shout back. But its cool.

*7. If male, be kinda pushy
*7. If female, be kinda scary
(It cancels the other out)

8. Familiarize yourself with small arms. Or at least get comfortable seeing them everywhere. I work on a college campus and there are children sipping espresso with a freaking grenade launcher. But hey, if I was invaded or doing the invading on a regular basis, I'd want espresso and a grenade launcher, too.

9. Stop smiling. Its a sign of weakness. Every time you smile, Ahmadinejad kills a puppy. But also be irreverently happy-go-lucky. For never smiling, being armed to the teeth and having either Hamas or Hezbollah rockets landscape an Israeli front lawn every couple of weeks, they're incredibly optimistic.

10. Mentally confuse yourself with the nature of being Israeli. They're optimistic, but pragmatic. They're outgoing, but reserved. They may love Israel, they don't necessarily love Israeli policy.

But most importantly, the Israelis you think you know or see in the media are not necessarily real Israelis. They aren't all Zionists, they don't all obsess on the Holocaust. There just aren't really any real or fair assumptions beyond the hilariously superficial. That's what this post is dedicated to. The situation is too complex and the people should be understood as equally complex. I worry about when assumptions give way to universal judgements. This list may be superficial but this place is anything but.

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