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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thoughts from the plane

I'm back in Israel, having landed at about 7:00 AM this morning.  Here are a few things that occurred to me about traveling with Israelis on El Al:

Stuff I hate about traveling with Israelis:

1,  Too loud.  They all talk as though they are in their living-rooms at home and the kids have the television turned up too high.  They are immune to the glares from Europeans who can't get away from the high-volumed conversations without going into the bathrooms.

2.  Fashion Victims.   On the best of days Israelis are never going to be accused of being fashion plates.  Just walking down an Israeli street is enough to hurt the eyes and offend the senses.  The few who actually dress with any semblance of taste are those who were either born abroad or have spent significant time on shlichut (working outside the country).  However, based on my observations, typical Israelis must save their most outlandish get-ups for when they go on vacation.  The women all were belly shirts... even when they are senior citizens and grossly overweight, and the men all seem to  favor an evil mating of capris & cargo shorts worn with tank tops, flip-flops and lots of gold neck chains.

3.  Rules are for other people.  In the airport, on the plane and just about anywhere in a foreign destination, Israelis seem to delight in flouting the posted/accepted rules.  They smoke where they want... stand where they want... and line up for absolutely nothing.   In fact, I watched in amazement as some of my countrymen and women used an orderly queue of Europeans as a sort of slalom course... weaving in between the gape-mouthed  Brits, Swiss and Germans to reach the check-in and passport counters.  Those little rope things?  Those are for other people to stand between and behind.  Israelis simply detach the rope from the nearest stanchion and walk through to the front.

Stuff I love about traveling with Israelis:

1.   Jewish Geography.  On the plane or on the street in some foreign country, the sound of spoken Hebrew will instantly elicit a knowing nod followed by a 30 second game of 'do you know' during which it will turn out you are related by blood, marriage, business or all three.

2.  Jews Abroad.  At home, many secular Israelis see themselves as, well, Israeli.  Abroad they suddenly all become Jews.  I was having lunch at the Chabad house in Bangkok and was amazed at how many totally secular Israelis came to have a kosher meal at such places.  Not only that, but I was floored at how many of the men automatically picked up kippot from the bin by the door and how many of the women grabbed the available scarves to cover up their bikinis and tank tops.  Mind you, nobody was enforcing a dress code... it was simply a nice, respectful thing to do.

3.  Sappy Sentimentalists.  Israelis can be infuriating with their tough, know-it-all attitudes.  But when returning from abroad they will still clap like children as the wheels of the plane touch Israeli soil, and will unabashedly sing along to the corny Israeli music (heveinu shalom aleichem) playing over the speakers.  After a particularly soft landing a few will inevitably turn to their neighbors and knowingly say "Only one of our [former Jet fighter] pilots could land a plane like that".

Posted by David Bogner on March 8, 2007 | Permalink


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Stories about the rudeness of Israelis are commonplace - are certain segments of Israeli society more prone to this than others?

Posted by: Russell | Mar 8, 2007 2:36:31 PM

Funny...the things you listed as what you dislike about traveling with Israelis are some of the things I LOVE about Israelis :-)

Posted by: orieyenta | Mar 8, 2007 4:10:25 PM

Welcome home! :)

Posted by: val | Mar 8, 2007 4:16:20 PM

Welcome back. Have a nice country!

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 8, 2007 4:25:47 PM

I got it! I just realized the solution to rude Israeli behavior.

Convice the Nobel committee to start a new category for the Nobel prize. Israelis are known for being over represented among Nobel prize winners so they're sure to compete for this one. Start a Nobel prize for shut-the-f*#@-up.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 8, 2007 4:30:45 PM

Unlike you I've found that my Israeli friends here still see themselves as secular Israelis, not Jews. On occasion I've wished them Chag Sameach and received blank stares, at which point I've had to explain that it's Tu B'Shavat, or Purim. Can't really blame them though...in Israel you don't ordinarily expect there to be two feet of snow on the ground at Tu B'Shvat!

Posted by: Kayla | Mar 8, 2007 5:01:17 PM

Welcome home,

I find Israeli's have this funny way of always acting like they are in their living rooms.

Ill never forget the first movie i saw in Israel, "Pulp Fiction" back in 1994. Half way through the movie this large guy got up turned to the full theatre and says .." Mah Zeh? Ad achshav ani lo meiveen kloom!"

P.S. Thanks for the photo offer

Posted by: david | Mar 8, 2007 5:11:41 PM

welcome home trepp

Posted by: marallyn | Mar 8, 2007 5:26:35 PM

There's a Chabad house in Bangkok? Didn't see that one coming.

Posted by: Ezer K'negdo | Mar 8, 2007 5:52:56 PM

Not to nitpick or anything, you "flout" rules, you don't "flaunt" them.

Posted by: soccer dad | Mar 8, 2007 5:57:56 PM


Posted by: LOVELY ISRAELI | Mar 8, 2007 6:37:18 PM

This must be why so many Americans like Israel and Israelis. They are slightly more exaggerated versions of Americans. It's nice to know that there is at least one group of people that are louder than Americans traveling abroad.

Posted by: Fern R | Mar 8, 2007 7:55:10 PM

Years.....ago I visited Israel
and 'got in' with a group of olim hadashim who had congregated from various parts of the world. They were intent on fitting into their new country by emulating their notion of correct Israeli behavior - they were RUDE!, nasty, took pains to ignore and insult everyone. They just wanted to be good new Israelis
by following their apparent
impression of acting Israeli.

Posted by: Schvach | Mar 8, 2007 8:53:21 PM

yeah. it's a well known fact in israel that all the Americans that don't like to act by the American western beheavior codes come on Aliyah and in Israel they feel free to behave like Israeli barberyens .which explains what happend to the group you were with.

Posted by: Rude Israeli | Mar 8, 2007 10:18:00 PM

The appropriate joke that attaches to this discussion: El Al is landing in Israel at the end of December. The pilot announces "please remain seated with your cell phones off until we come to a complete stop at the gate. To those of you seated and quiet, Merry Christmas. To those of you standing in the aisles talking on your cell phones, welcome home."

This joke may seem old because it plays itself out on every flight you've been on.

Posted by: Barzilai | Mar 9, 2007 12:11:34 AM


My experiences on El Al are limited, but what I saw on the Tel Aviv-Miami route was entirely different. There were a lot of elderly Americans on those flights, so things were pretty quiet. Except for my group. We were drawing nasty looks from the start. :)

Posted by: K Newman | Mar 9, 2007 1:29:34 AM

I have to concur with what Orieyenta says. Having only been to Israel once (pathetic, I know), I still have a few Israeli friends here in Brooklyn, especially in the conclave of Kings Highway, and I must say that all their "habits" are incredibly endearing to me, and it definitely gets my "make Aliyah one day" momentum/mojo (call it what you will) flowing.

Posted by: Erica | Mar 9, 2007 5:38:01 AM

Only an Israeli would provide such a good description of other Israelis. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Mar 9, 2007 7:08:36 AM

Ahhh Trep, Trep, you obvioulsy haven't met enough philos on your travels abroad. It would make you perceive all of your points above as sheer, benevolent blessing. ;)

Posted by: Account Deleted | Mar 9, 2007 6:41:15 PM

A couple summers back Chedva and I left the kids in Israel with savta while we went to Bangkok for a conference. Upon returning to Israel, we were struck by the elbowing and shoving at the baggage carousel. People were being so rude and inconsiderate. When we left the terminal, though, our taxi driver (no kippa) asked me which bag my tefillin were in. He wanted to be sure to place that bag on top. There's no place like home!

Posted by: Alan | Mar 10, 2007 12:02:54 AM

Of course Israeli airline pilots land softly; the Israeli Navy has no carriers. You can tell if your pilot is an old navy figher jock - he "sticks" the landing as if he's trying to grab the first the cable.

Israeli fashion design - the field is wide open. Now, if only the models on the runway would shut up and quit cutting in front of each other.

Posted by: Bob | Mar 10, 2007 8:32:23 AM

Thanks for mangling my comment!
What you posted under my handle
not only isn't close to what I wrote, it's not even English!

Posted by: Schvach | Mar 25, 2007 10:46:20 PM

Doctor Bean, Actually Israelis are under-represented with Nobel Prizes, see The Difference Between Jews and Muslims, it's Jews that are over-represented.

Posted by: bernie | Nov 14, 2007 4:27:54 AM

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