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Israelis Abroad – Travelers with attitude

The golden age of imperialism and foreign empires may have passed but it seems that no one remembered to tell Israel. With every passing day they consolidate their strangle-hold on key strategic positions, occupying territory with no mercy or consideration for the long-suffering local populace. I am, of course, talking about the legions of Israeli travelers who make exodus every year from the holy land to the shores of S. America, India and Thailand.

The golden age of imperialism and foreign empires may have passed but it seems that no one remembered to tell Israel. With every passing day they consolidate their strangle-hold on key strategic positions, occupying territory with no mercy or consideration for the long-suffering local populace. I am, of course, talking about the legions of Israeli travelers who make exodus every year from the holy land to the shores of S. America, India and Thailand.

Everybody has their favorite ‘bad Israeli’ story of how they saw some young hothead from Tel Aviv bargain for two hours over a couple of baht. Or the wild party crew that decided to start their sound system at 3am in some sleepy hill village, denying the hard working farm laborers of much needed sleep.

And when Israelis are asked about their obnoxious attitudes towards the locals, the angry response will inevitably be:

“What do I care? Anyway I’m paying him!”

Most travelers tend to flinch when they hear the approaching guttural sounds of Hebrew that precede an arriving wolf pack of Israelis. They saunter in and take over the scene, making zero effort to meet backpackers of other nationalities, spreading bad attitude like body odor.

So how do so many of them get to be so fucking rude?

To decipher the Israeli mentality you have to take a look at where they come from. Throughout their childhood their families, the schools and the mass media imprint upon their souls the unenviable history of the Jewish people. The never-ending murderous pogroms suffered in Europe, the fear of which was appeased only by the ever-present prospect of imminent starvation. Ice the cake with Herr Hitler and his vision of turning an entire race into an endless supply of soap and you can see why the Jews came up with the 11th commandment: Never would they take shit from anyone ever again.

Which, as any Israeli knows, was an idealistic dream – In Israel everyone gives everyone shit all the time. First of all there’s your family. All the stereotypical images you’ve seen of Jewish mothers in the movies and TV? They’re all true.

“When are you going to get off your ass and make something of yourself?”

“My son, he never calls me! Busy, he says – Was I too busy to bring him up?”

Then there’s the evangelical men in black who aspire to dress every Jew in Eastern European suits and stockings, complete with furry hats to keep warm through the Middle Eastern summer. Where they got the idea that Moses and co wandered around the desert like that, Jehovah only knows.

“How will the Messiah ever come if you work on the Sabbath?”

“Sister, why do you dress like a whore? Come and wear a wig and Polish peasant clothing so that the men may not be tempted by impure thoughts!”

Then, at the age of 18, just as they’re beginning to scramble together some kind of identity together, they’re thrown into the army. The guys get to wear green for three years while the girls get off lightly with only two. Through this time they’re shouted at, ordered around and shifted about the country on military exercises for the very real prospect of war. At every bus station in the country you see baby-faced soldiers unconscious on their seats, looking for all the world as though they’re in the middle of a three-year-long bad dream.

And why do they lose the best years of their lives to this aggravating rigmarole? Because all the neighboring countries to the North, South and East hate their guts. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the incredibly complicated existence of the state of Israel, none of this generation asked to be born there. Many would rather they hadn’t. But it’s their home and, thankfully, there’s no place like it.

So out of the army they come, seething with bitterness and frustration, maybe emotionally and psychologically scarred if they saw any bad action. Hardly anyone doesn’t have a friend of relative who hasn’t died, got injured or gone partially insane through the whole process.

All they want to do is get away. But unless they have rich parents (and Israel is not a wealthy country) they have to make the money themselves. So does every other traveler, yes but in Israel it’s not automatically assumed that someone should actually get paid for the work that they’ve done. One girl I knew had to walk into her manager’s office with a hammer – he’d put off paying her for three months for some waitressing work she’d done:

“Either you give me my money,” She told him, “Or I’m going to break every window in this room!” He reached into his wallet and threw the cash on the table.

None of this excuses some of their more outrageous behavior but it does go a way towards explaining it. The other point in understanding the Israelis is to remember that they’re not European. Although they’re an amalgam of nationalities from all around the world their values are dominantly Middle Eastern. So, yes, they’ll help themselves to a cigarette from your packet without asking but they wouldn’t think twice if you do the same.

They’re a tribe. And so they reserve their friendliness and warmth for those within their numbers. Which means that if you’re with them then you’ll never find a better friend. In 8 months in Israel I didn’t stay a single night in a hostel and never paid a shekel in rent. To them the polite manners affected by Europeans seem shallow and artificial. Highlighted say, by the accountancy exam that takes place each time a gang of Germans divide up the bill at the end of a meal.

It always seemed to me that the traveler should leave their own standards at home in the hope of appreciating the values of another culture. When Israelis shout and make a scene it’s no big thing for them. It’s just a different way of doing things.

It would be nice if they realized that themselves, though. If there was ever a bunch of tourists guilty of forcing their standards on the locals by virtue of a stronger currency, it’s the Israelis. Every country does this in their own way but none with quite the same chutzpah, a word that roughly translates as ‘shameless confidence’.

The other thing that’s worth remembering is that no one hates Israelis like other Israelis. A good percentage of them do all they can to stay away from their countrymen. They adopt American accents and seem a little embarrassed to admit just where they come from. Unless it’s to explain to you how much harder their lives have been than yours.

But whatever you feel about them they’re sure as hell not going to go away. Barring a nuclear strike on Jerusalem. And let’s not forget that they are, after all, the chosen people. Although considering the gargantuan efforts throughout history to exterminate them, it seems Jehovah omitted to tell them exactly what they were chosen for.

  • got here via google

    wow this is racist

    • mike2000917

      “Israeli” is not a race. Jew is not a race either.

  • AramMcLean

    This article is pretty accurate I have to say. And fair as well.

  • Freemasoninyourface

    You seem to be obsessed with Israelis and the “Israeli Mafia” in Tokyo that you chose to mingle with them or freeload while living in Israel on your own free will .
    Chinese tourists , Russian Tourists and especially the British tourists that after they finnished colonization half of the world they moved on to Mallorca , Greece , Portugal,
    Thailand or any other cheap& sunny place they can escape doing what the love back home : getting pissed , getting laid and telling you about the “brilliant dinner” they had , so balance up please
    , yes Israelis can be quiet annoying but they are such a small minority compering with rude chinese , Russian or Millions of Lovely Essex Empty heads…

  • Aviad Nevo

    Im ISraeli, a bit older now then the young average Israeli traveler just out of the army. I have traveld indid in S America, India and Thailand. I think this article is funny and quite right. Thank you for illustrating our background in a detailed fashion. One thing though, because Israelis have “middle estern values” they will welcoming for your (any other tourist) approach. Try talking to them you will probably find an interesting and warm counterpart and maybe you could show them other touristical attitude.

  • travellertao

    I was sitting in a restaurant in Khao San Road, Bangkok. Three 20something Israeli’s walked in, a guy and two girls (with the biggest hair in the world.) The place was half full with most people sat at the back watching a movie. They decided to sit in front of everyone, a few people tutted. The guy looked around and smiled at everyone then got up and moved the group to right in front of the TV blocking most peoples view. There were a few boo’s.
    A waiter came up and asked if they would like to move so everyone could see the film. The guy said “No! we will sit here”. They ordered food and the waiter disappeared. I heard the guy say to the girls, “When he comes back I will tell him it is not what I ordered”, and all three laughed.
    The waiter came back with food and the guy did as he said. The waiter was amazingly cool did not argue and took the food away.

    The guy then said to the girls, “When he comes back I will tell him it tastes shit”, and they all laughed. Again the waiter came back and the guy did as he said. The waiter walked back into the kitchen with the food looking puzzled. The food came back out 5mins later, the group tutted abit but ate half while chatting and laughing loudly.