Anglo Immigrants: Arbiters of Social Rightness?

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Egged bus

via Wikipedia

New reader Ruth Alfasi wrote to me to object to the discussion of whether Israelis are rude.

She writes:

Connecting Israelis with rudeness is, if not rude itself, and if not lacking derech eretz (good manners) , certainly culturally insensitive. We are here now, and as Jews we ought to give others the benefit of the doubt. And if by their social norms they aren’t rude, then they aren’t. They can actually have their own cultural norms. “Rude” is a social more, not a fact.

That we Americans come and impose our ideals of social behavior on others is pretty egocentric. I think what really happens to us Americans is that we just can’t quite acknowledge that we are no longer the arbiters of social rightness. In the US, an immigrant does something “rude” (plays music too loud at night, for example) and we feel compelled and even justified in essentially assisting them to acculturate to how things are done “here.” We’re HELPING them, by politely reminding them of the “rules” before threatening to call the police on them:). Gosh, that way they’ll be accepted better. Here, nobody seems to appreciate our efforts to better everyone according to our rule book.

I really like Ruth’s point about how Anglo immigrants in Israel feel indignant about “bad” behavior.

On the other hand, Israelis are not monolithic. I’ve experienced “rude” customer service, but I’ve also met salespeople who went out of their way to help me find what I needed. I’m sure we’ve all met “rude” Anglos as well. Sometimes we are too quick to stereotype someone as “typically Israeli.”

Maya at How to Be Israeli has this take on salespeople:

In America, the customer is always right– and the customer is therefore entitled to demand service RIGHT NOW, monopolize a sales person’s time and then walk away, ask to speak to the manager if anything is wrong with service, etc. In Israel, on the other hand, the sales person sees himself as an authority– and is therefore entitled to take his sweet time in coming to serve you, give you advice you didn’t ask for, and refuse to sell you a more expensive product if he’s convinced a cheap one will do. The flip side of this, though, is that sales people usually feel invested in helping you find the right product, and they often have good advice to offer. Americans who come in expecting sales people to be subservient come across as arrogant and demanding… sounds familiar?

I may be living here a lot longer than Maya, but her perspective on shopping changed my life.

We should strive to understand the cultural norms of a country we have chosen to live in. But we shouldn’t deny our Anglo culture, and it’s fine to want change. We immigrants are Israeli too, and we do influence the local culture. As Israelis spend more time abroad they realize that it is more pleasant to wait in a line to get on the bus than to crowd around the door. Plenty of Israelis, not only Anglos, come from countries where people wait patiently on line to get on a bus.

Also, while some elements of culture are subjective,  like rudeness, other aren’t. Violence and discrimination, for example, shouldn’t be tolerated, regardless of whether they are  common in a particular culture.  We Anglos shouldn’t apologize for pushing for that kind of change.

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Comments

  1. Very interesting post, which I want to think about a bit more. In general, I find nastiness about Israelis to be offensive (as I consider myself one in many ways) but I am definitely guilty of thinking these things myself. I did recently comment on FB about an interaction I had with a salesperson which I found insulting and led me to leave the store and vow never to return. This man was not trying to be helpful; he was more concerned with how hard his job was than whether or not I was going to buy anything.

    While some things can be attributed to cultural norms, and we should all have more tolerance for the people we chose to join, some things really are just inexcusable!

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    • Nastiness – I never have experienced a culture of nastiness!

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      • What I meant to say is that sometimes olim look down on Israelis. And I find that offensive. Someone on Twitter complained that “stupid Israelis” clap when a plane lands. She felt it was embarrassing and juvenile. I was upset by her calling Israelis stupid. (I had also never thought there was anything wrong with clapping…)

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  2. Ruth speaks what I have been feeling for a long time. Facebook is full of indignancy by olim over how “the israelis” behave. I find this behaviour very condescending and attribute it to their complete lack of integration in Israeli society and culture (whether by choice or not). A doctor friend of mine coined a phrase “angry anglos” to describe the phenomena. We all need a big dose of “acceptance of the other”..

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  3. Ruth Alfasi says:

    BS”D, thanks, Hannah, for referring to our really engaging conversation which actually inspired me to start a blog on the topic. I’ll add one thing, if I may: I think that what also happens to “us” is that we have so many uncomfortable interactions, that we easily end up lumping personally reprehensible behavior, into “Israelis, at it again!” Personal example here, I was in a makolet and was paying when the cashier made an error. Simple, human error, which I brought to her attention, I promise, as politely as I could, but she responded by throwing the change at me (in front of other customers) and yelling something to the effect of, “Why are you wearing that scarf, you insane woman?!” Ouch. Ok, so, I did get visibily upset after that, but the point is, it seems hard not to connect her horrible behavior with “Isreali”-ness, because we can’t always quite tell where the line is.
    My hope in my blog (ok, I’d add it here, matbucha.blogspot.com, is to help us move beyond criticism, and towards real understanding of what’s happening in terms of cultural subtext, that we Anglos miss. Hopefully we’ll build a little ahavat Israel along the way.
    Perhaps a good question is, why don’t they get fired, or fear getting fired, like we do in the states?
    Ruth Alfasi recently posted..In Defense of Culture- Israeli vs. American "Norms"My Profile

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    • outbursts are more acceptable in Israeli culture, part of the same picture that things blow over and don’t fester. had she been an American cashier she would have exuded nastiness in a more acceptably American way.

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  4. I found this post very interesting. It’s a topic I recently discussed with some friends who were visiting from the USA .
    The fact that ” the customer is always right” is not necessarily the way the salesperson sees it here is a very good point. I had never thought of it like that but it’s true different cultures see things differently. I will forward this link to the friend I was talking to about this. Thanks for the interesting post ….food for thought :)
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  5. While I definitely agree with the idea of looking at things in their appropriate cultural context I think that at the same time you can’t deny the larger picture. Yes, we are citizens of Israel, and yes, it might be inappropriate to come here and judge this society by the light of our previous one (though some things really do still irk, even after 20 years here) but at the same time we are also citizens of the world at large, and represent Israel to that world.

    Every time one of us goes abroad and behaves in a way that is rude or unbecoming and attracts negative attention, or every time we do so in front of a visitor to this country, we are perpetuating stereotypes and creating a picture of what “Israeli” means to that individual. It behooves us to stop and think for a moment whether we’re painting the picture we want to be painting. Are we more concerned with being “right”, with not being a “friar” (a sucker) than with treating someone else the way we ourselves would wish to be treated? If so, perhaps a good long look in the mirror is in order.

    And for the record, I do feel that 20+ years of living, contributing and paying (far too much in) taxes here gives me the right to influence this society I now call my own just as a native-born Israeli has the right to argue for change he feels necessary, and just as waves of immigrants before me have done and many more after me will. I expect this to work in reverse as well, that the best of Israeli society, it’s caring for its fellow citizens, its passion, everything that makes it the warm and wonderful stew of emotions that it can be at its best, will work to influence me, to change me.

    Whether we choose to let the better or worse aspects hold the upper hand is the real question.

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  6. Everyone here, Sabra or immigrant, pretty much knows the difference between rude and abusive, rude and dangerous, rude and violent, rude and harming public property, rude and disgusting. The problem is that institutionalized and socialized rudeness results in an absence of social constraints on and protest against the more destructive behaviors.

    Here are some things I’ve witnessed in the last few months. Tell me whether I should simply withhold judgment:

    Men urinating in public (at least three times)
    Mothers instructing children to urinate in public (in front of a bench, not a tree)
    Constant high speed driving on a short residential street in Jerusalem that has a number of ganim and schools on or near it.
    People in checkout lines leaving for ten minutes and then acting offended that you went ahead of them.
    Cars obstructing sidewalks that forces you to walk with your kids in the street – then getting screamed at by a motorist for doing so.
    A near riot at a cell phone “service” center with guards restraining customers who were turned away after waiting for hours.

    I’m not trying to dis Israelis. For each of these I can provide plenty of instances of people behaving nicely, courteously and helpfully. My point is that all these negative and antisocial behaviors can be traced to an expectation or acceptance of what we Americans would call rudeness.

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    • Ruth Alfasi says:

      RE: Ari – I have to say, I’ve seen plenty of people urinating in public in California. Along Hwy1, 101, etc. where public bathrooms are scarce. I just kinda thought that was a guy-thing. Same thing with the mom’s “go” although alongside a bench? This is certainly the norm in Mexico where I lived for a time. Speeding is hardly new, but the lines, oy’v VOY! The line-culture. Essentially, there is no line. We only imagine there to be one.
      Ruth Alfasi recently posted..Freedom of Speech, Israeli-StyleMy Profile

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  7. I totally agree with your fantastic post. One culture’s rude is another culture’s norm

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  8. My last experience in Israel was terrible. Having have the fortune of traveling a lot to many different countries I am away of various customs, etc. But my last experience in Israel was terrible. From asking the bus drive to let me know when we r at a specific stop, sitting right behind him, and his letting me ride to the very last stop and then kicking me off the bus , to the doorman at my cousins building in Netanya not letting me into the building even though he had a letter from my cousin telling me the doorman had a key to the apartment for me still he refused to let me in or to give me the key and he would not even let me use the phone to call my cousins. To one of the employees at the building informing me his cell phone only allowed in coming calls and not out going calls. I am sorry this is not acceptable to me. And this was just the tip of the iceberg. I am not judging Israeli’s but I will not but up with this type of behavior and just will not go back to Israel again

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  9. This is a story about the opposite situation. Israelis (me) fining Americans rude, because of cultural differences. My father recently passed away after a 2 month illness. During that time he was hospitilized at a rehabilitation center in Chicago. My sister and brother flew from Israel to Chicago to be with him. There were no hotels within walking distance of the rehab center. We asked a cousin if they could sstay with them for Shabbat. The cousins said no, we have no room. Now these people live in a HUGE American house. If an Israeli was asked the same thing, they would put the guests up, no matter how small the house. I do not think the cousin was being rude, just influenced by his culture.
    What do you think?

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    • Ms. Krieger says:

      Ariela,

      Yes, I think the cousin may have actually wanted to put them up but been embarrassed by the perceived lack of an appropriate room to put them in…if that makes sense? A lot of people in the US believe that everyone needs their own room, and it’s awkward to have people sleep in rooms used for other purposes during the day.

      On Israeli “rudeness” generally – when I visited I was impressed by the rude/pushy/assertive behavior, but it was also inspiring. I learned to work with it. Maybe I picked up some Israeli habits, because when I got back to the states I could talk/push my way onto any bus or situation without inhibition for a month or more. American just seemed so passive.

      Do you olim find that is true when you return to the US, UK, or other Anglo cultures?

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      • Nurse Yachne says:

        More than that I find Americans passive, I find them *cold*.

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        • I can understand why/how one can perceive American’s as “cold” : at the checkout counter the cashier will frequently, wordlessly scan each of your items, then tell you your total as the end, without even looking at you, take your credit card (or cash), swipe the card, hand you your receipt, even hand you a pen for signature, all without so much as a “have a good day”. Even when give change — they simply silently count out the change that the computer tells them to, and simply hands it over, no eye contact, no words exchanged.

          This is very different from thirty years ago, when I can remember having whole conversations with cashiers, and them counting the change back into my hands “backwards to the total”…

          Yeah, I can understand that…
          Rachel Stern recently posted..Bar Mitzvah, Reunions, EmotionsMy Profile

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          • Nurse Yachne says:

            Not so much in transactions like this, but in cases when someone needs help.

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  10. This is a great post. I thought the shopping example was great because there is nothing inherently more ethical about either cultural norm. (Though I do think that “the customer is always right” is a more effective business model, but that’s the store’s problem, not mine.) Another example of a cultural norm like that is the American culture of minding your own business vs. Israeli culture of your business being everyone’s business: you could make an ethical argument either way, but really it’s just two different norms.
    But there are some cultural norms in America that are objectively more ethical than the norms here. I think that the culture with regard to waiting in line is a perfect example. The Israeli tendency to cut in line, do that trick in the supermarket with the cart, or to just crowd around and never have any line, is ethically problematic and often also irrational: first come first serve is fair and better than the pushiest wins. And trying to crowd into the train before people have gotten off is just irrational as you end up wasting time and people can get hurt. So in situations like that I am fine with complaining about Israeli culture, because it really is problematic, and reasonable, ethical Israelis will agree that it is a problem.
    I also agree with the point in the comments about distinguishing between cultural “Israeli” behavior, and people who are just plain obnoxious, who exist in every culture. Recently a couple of family and friends who have visited me have complained about an “Israeli experience” in which someone was really awfully behaved. In each instance, I felt it had nothing to do with Israel – they just encountered a really antisocial, problematic person.

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    • Nurse Yachne says:

      Israeli customer service has improved tremendously since I came here 27 years ago. It’s almost like a different country. More Israelis have travelled to chuts l’aretz and experienced good service, also, increased capitalism has given them (us) the motive to improve service in order to increase profits. I think Israelis are far more willing to adapt to change than Americans

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  11. To broadly generalize, Israelis don’t seem to hesitate about broadly generalizing in their negative opinion of Anglos. I’ve, in fact, been informed that this too is part of the culture. Terrific. It’s part of Anglo culture to see rudeness as rude.

    It’s true that appropriate behavior is to a degree culturally conditioned. We all know that. Doesn’t change a thing though.

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    • Nurse Yachne says:

      Oh please. Here in Israel, cultural differences, ethnic origins, are a big point of discussion. If people generalize about Americans, they do so about Moroccans, Gruzinis, Poles, Yekkes, Persians, French, Argentinians, Brazilians, Kurds kibbutzniks, etc. The fact that people are open about differences and can oftenlaugh about them is refreshing.

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      • Right on. And that’s why there’s nothing wrong with Anglos complaining about Israelis too. Right?

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  12. Ruth Alfasi says:

    You know what i hear in all these comments is that us American/Israelis (?) constantly refer to the bigger picture. We have a global-rightness in mind that we perceive to be compromised, somehow, by deviations from the “norm.” We look at line-cutting as essentially anti-social, because it’s against the common good, as well as being an inefficient method of entering a bus, a bank teller or a cashier. Why do we care so much about the global implications of someone else cutting in? Just an example, but I wonder why Israelis don’t think in these terms (as far as I’ve been able to tell).

    Thanks again, Hannah. Great post…shabbat shalom
    Ruth Alfasi recently posted..How to Be Israeli: Be a Sexy BrideMy Profile

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    • Ruth, I completely agree with your post here and with the post that Hannah shared! Also, thanks for sharing my Sexy Bride post :) You and Hannah might just have motivated me to re-start my blog today!
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    • Ruth, now I’m confused. You are saying that examining a behavior’s ethical and rational implications is just a cultural American thing? In that case, I’m sticking with American culture. Not thinking about how your actions impact others is not an acceptable cultural more to me, it’s just selfish and wrong.

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      • Ruth Alfasi says:

        I know, Chana, I understand how you feel, but there’s something called, “High Consideration” conversational styles and “Low Consideration.” See this link by Debra Tannen (Jewish feminist/scholar) where she describes how this works. It’s in academic lingo, but the long and the short of it is – our conversational styles are culturally based, not merely “right” and “wrong.” I’ll try to blog about it more soon, but gotta run. We’re told as kids be considerate, but maybe that’s just created us to be overly sensitive to our perception of others and overly insensitive.
        http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/pdfs/Don't_Just_Sit_There-_Interrupt.pdf
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        • That was a fun article – I like Deborah Tannen! But I still maintain that just because *some* cultural differences are simply a matter of local convention and are completely morally equivalent, not *all* cultural differences are morally equivalent. I’m generally a big fan of tolerance without slipping into complete relativism, and I think this is a case in point: I don’t need to be SO tolerant and PC that I completely lose my moral compass: there are times when I’m willing to draw the line and say “that is just WRONG!”

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  13. Wow, I’m honored… I can’t believe my post had such an impact on you! Maybe I’ll revive my blog (just what I need with a newborn! :) to post about how Americans can get their own way when dealing with Israelis. I know so many “Angry Anglos” who spend their days in Israel going from confrontation to confrontation… when a confrontation is EXACTLY the wrong way to deal with an Israeli. Instead, it’s crucial to get Israelis on your side by treating them as if they’re your ally and asking them how to help you solve your problem. This is how I managed to wear my own dress through a 20 hour labor after being told it was against hospital policy, for example! Treating Israelis with respect and a good dose of self-deprecation is, ironically, exactly how I manage to get my own way in my dealings with Israelis and Israeli bureaucracy 99% of the time. :)
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    • Maya, people keep asking me why you stopped writing. Of course, I knew you were pregnant but I didn’t tell!
      mother in israel recently posted..Anglo Immigrants: Arbiters of Social Rightness?My Profile

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    • Maya, I hope you will write again. I always hated shopping for clothes. In the US I just browsed and picked out what I like. Here the salespeople resented that and made me feel uncomfortable. Now I let them offer me clothes to try on and if I don’t like them, I just say no.

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    • Ruth Alfasi says:

      Please, Maya, do start up your blog again – I read all of your posts in one gulp. We can all learn to at least be self-depracating, as you say, and have a healthier attitude in life. I know, i was an “Angry Anglo” made worse by marrying a Sefardi/Israeli who had no interest in hearing about my criticisms, er, I mean, issues, with Israelis and Israeliness.

      Please, please, pretty-please write again – you can write and hold baby at same time…in fact, I’ll bet, late at night when she’s keeping you up, the white noise of your clicking on the keyboard can become soothing to her:).
      I still crack up and share your “over 60 spandex is festive comment:)!!!
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  14. Thanks to everyone for participating in this discussion, especially Ruth for starting it all. One of the best comment threads in a while!
    mother in israel recently posted..Anglo Immigrants: Arbiters of Social Rightness?My Profile

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  15. I’m not Israeli, immigrant or native, but it seems to me that you nailed this post. Of course there are things that could be improved in Israel. There are things that can be improved everywhere! And of course immigrants should be able to share their two cents on what could be improved. Why would Israel so heavily encourage immigration but then tell immigrants that they’re not allowed to fully participate in the shape of the country’s future? Last time I checked you guys were encouraging Jewish immigration not zombie robot immigration. But at the same time, immigrants are moving to Israel, they need to working in integrating. There is more than one acceptable definition of “polite,” and the definition used in English-speaking countries isn’t the only one worth considering, nor is it appropriate in all parts of the world. Life in Israel is different than life in much of the English-speaking world and it necessitates a different understanding about polite behavior.
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  16. BookishIma says:

    In my experience, and this is of course a generality, what Americans mean by “rude” is a different category of human behavior compared to what Israelis mean by “rude.” Basically, to me, it is rude to be fake, whereas many of the complaints I hear from Anglos have to do with courtesy/formalities. Lots of American “politeness” feels somewhat rude and cold to me, even though I know I shouldn’t take it that way. The humanity in the situation seems to get lost in formalities a lot of times. It’s rude and absurd, in my opinion, to ask a small child to wait in line for a public restroom when they could just go by a tree in the park. I don’t understand thank-you notes – I always call my friends to thank them personally or tell them when I see them in person. I’m not the queen of England, I’m your friend! Call me! You have to be very careful not to impose on people in the States. Well, it feels rude to me to give a relative or friend the feeling that they’re imposing. Yeah, people pushing in line is annoying and inconsiderate, but it’s not unkind. So when this subject comes up, it always puzzles me a little. I know what Anglos mean, but I just experience it so differently.
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  17. My daughter sent me a link to this post because she knew I would find it interesting. I am still an “Olah Chadashah” having arrived here less than three months ago. I hail from the US, New York to be exact. While I did not reside in NYC (except for a two year stint while a student many years ago) I did work in NYC for fifteen years. NYC has a reputation for a city with rude people. Yes, rudeness DOES abound in NYC — but bear in mind, that NYC is truly the melting pot of all cultures, so as pointed out above, with each culture having its own “brand” of what is rude or not rude this is bound to happen. Really, what it is is “misunderstanding”, it is not truly rudeness.

    Before arriving in Israel I both heard and read “horror stories” of rudeness in Israel — by salespeople, customer service representatives, clerks in government offices, and so on. I was worried — at least a little bit. But, I steeled myself to expect the worst. I also counseled myself. I counseled myself thus:

    1. Israeli’s are people, just like Anglo’s are people — with feelings. They have good days and bad days.
    2. Israeli culture IS different than American culture. Realize that cultural norms, cultural expectations, cultural responses will be DIFFERENT in Israel than in the US — and, that it is not necessarily bad, just different.
    3. I have always believed, and continue to believe that the world that one experiences (for the most part, not 100%) is the world that one gives. Life will mirror what one gives. If I smile, people smile back. It works. Try it.
    4. I lived here for two years back in 1977 through 1979. I already experienced Israeli culture. I was much younger, to be sure, and likely more malleable at that time. But, I know that Israeli culture back then was much rougher and tougher than it is today. The influence of large numbers of Anglo immigrants into Israeli society had not yet taken root.
    5. I have the benefit of having lived amongst many various kinds of people, of having worked with many various kinds of people and that experience has given me the benefit of being able to accommodate differences…
    6. I have the benefit of being “disabled” – I am hard-of-hearing and wear hearing aids. It is a benefit in that it puts a person, at times, on the sidelines of society. Experiencing negativity can induce one to be more empathetic.

    With all that, I came expecting the worst. I can tell you, however, that since I have arrived, I have experienced so much kindness, so much nicety, even courtesy and politeness, respectful behavior and more. When I lost my ticket for the paid parking lot in which my car was parked I resigned myself to having to pay a whole days parking. The parking lot attendant, upon hearing that I lost my ticket asked me how long I had been parked there and charged me only for that time. My dealings with Misrad HaPnim, with Customs, with Mercaz Klita, with my social worker, etc. have all been pleasant. I took a bus from Jerusalem back home the other day and had only a 100 shekel bill on me. The bus driver could not change it. He was nice though and was able to break it with another traveler and thus I was able to pay and get change.

    Yes, I have witnessed inappropriate driving on the roads, I have been pushed in lines, and experienced a few other things – but really minor things. (And while the driving thing can be dangerous, nothing happened and I am not about to waste my energy on something that did not happen!)

    But the most important thing being overlooked here: people in Israel RUN to do kindness. If someone falls down on the sidewalk, EVERYONE nearby will come running over to help that person. I have witnessed this myself. In NYC, if someone falls down, most passersby assume he/she is drunk/drugged/crazy/dangerous/likely to sue them and they do not stop.

    I prefer to experience moments of rudeness in exchange for the extraordinary amounts of kindness that Israeli’s will show….
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    • Dear “girls” l d`ont know how l jumpt on this site. Probably by mistake, and Rachel is the first one, normal person that l like, or love even from your bunch of spoiled and stupid American “culture” female. Except here you are all judgeing, like realy Japs, the Israelians, as rude, uneducate, dangerous, with no curtesy, insupportable people, but YOU, the very supperior ones, American Ladys, your one and only thing of interes, is SHOPING., and in your shoping spray, the rude vendors in Israel, are not delicate and “excuse me” sensible to your satisfaction. Probably, for yours hight standard we are not educated, but for us, education means knowing more languages, history, mathemacs, international geography, etc. , and good English. Yes, good English language, not yours, because yours is American, a kind of Plebeian immitation. l am amazed that you as Jewish have such a hard opinion of us, and d`ont understand non of the achievements , and important realization made by your brothers to create, love and fight, for this small piece of land, out of the Desert, and made it a Home for all the Jewish people, rich or poor, white and black, European, African or American, who stil suffer, ans are not at the end of them, unfortunately, in the future. Du not forget that alwais will be a new Torkemada, Hitler or Ahmadinagead, and he will be jealous of the “Book People”

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      • Ruth Alfasi says:

        This is the Ruth that wrote that post – and i”m here to say – OH I LOVED THIS!!!! We really are spoiled and I”m married to an israeli. I think the hardest thing for Americans to figure out is how to not be the standard-bearer of the dominant culture, patiently overlooking the “other’s” ethnic ideosyncrasies – we’re olim and WE have to change!?!?! The Israeli ways can’t be corrected??? Very humbling to realize we can’t import the supposed beauty of our oh-so-liberal and open-minded culture.

        You, Caterin, make an excellent point about shopping, but it’s more subtle than that – when a culture and economy revolve around consumerism, “the customer is always right,” and indeed a demi-god. When we walk into a store, we believe we are near demi-gods, here to be served and slathered upon, worshipped for we hold the magic credit card everyone’s vying to capture! And we certainly are not there to be told by the “minimum wage rif-raf” how to shop! The assumption goes, If you were experts, you’d have a PhD (snobbish, I know). Our’s is a sad, sick culture, warped by the inherent power in the thirst of money and profit. We Jews do come here to Israel to be Jews-in-Eretz-haKodesh, if not entirely Israeli, and those elements of the non-Torah environment (in both cultures) Bezrat Hashem, should soon dissolve.
        Ruth Alfasi recently posted..Calling the Yetzer’s BluffMy Profile

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  18. I reccomend the book “Start up Nation” to understnd Israeli culture and behviour (as well as the success of Isreali high tec.

    Suddenly I understood how my boss runs meetings!!!

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  19. Great post and great thread. Maya’s perspective on this cultural difference (and others) really eased my aliyah. When I lived here as a student, I was constantly uncomfortable shopping and in other commercial transactions. Now I just remember, “The clerk (or whomever) is the expert,” and it makes everything easier.

    I’m the immigrant; I’m here to learn and conform, not impose.
    Chaya H. recently posted..Playing favoritesMy Profile

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  20. Obviously it is a raw question for Russian speaking community as well.
    1)some general thoughts
    I believe that distinction “politeness versus rudeness” is initially parenting tool to develop social identity in child. It means that “rude” behaviour should be seen from the childhood. Otherness mom pointed at. We identify best “ill brad others” bearing familiar features. Otherwise alien behaviour would mostly be seen as “cultural difference” and not felt as assault. I identify rudeness with highest clarity and irritation in my former compatriots, others may only accidentally emulate one or two features at a time. We can see it as some sort of self hatred, but I am more inclined to see it as form of primal xenophobia-we hate most who was “other” when we caught prejudice at mothers knee.
    We can differentiate several types of “ill breeding”)
    -people performing it you would be horrified to be seen in your company by your granny
    -you can never go out with person who did it
    -you have to make face and move away from the performer, older lady may comment

    Now I am going in to particular traits, please bare in mind that I am an ashkenaz Jew bred in Moscow, obviously there are much and more “rude behavior compendiums in other communities of Russian speaking Israelis, I describe mine-only as an example
    2)identification tools

    publicly eating seeds–people performing it you would be horrified to be seen in your company by your granny may be some one else
    throwing cigarettes or fruit peeling on the floor–people performing it you would be horrified to be seen in your company by your granny happens in Israel
    not washing hands after visiting bathroom–people performing it you would be horrified to be seen in your company by your grannymay happens to anyone
    calling elders and adults not belonging, and students (if you are well bred teacher) to the family by Name+name of the father or/and in plural- only old school Russian speakers perform it so most of the people are ill bred and you would not pass you granny in their company
    not attempting to put the shoes off entering the house–people performing it you would be horrified to be seen in your company by your granny -true cultural difference when not raining attempt can be performed only by ethnically close oldschooler
    sitting while women stands-you can never go out with person who did it BIG STUMBLE-yes it is normal in Israel
    sitting while elder stands-you have to make face and move away from the performer, older lady may comment- rather my “ill bred”compatriots or some patriarchal person
    throwing away edible food- you would never go out (again) with such person happens widely in Israel (see also next remark)
    sitting while women with young child or pregnant women stands-you have to make face and move away from the performer, older lady may comment- I link change of that rule in Israel with general fruitfulness. When Childbearing is not a once in a live ordeal but rather frequent event-obviously one cares less. Still we jump and would never go out blah-blah-blah
    publicly commenting on anthropological (as markers of ethnic origin) features of a person (present or absent)–you have to make face and move away from the performer, older lady may comment( I believe it to be safety precautions on antisemitism-hates otherness=”hates you, my child, for sure, do not look at me with vacant blue eyes- antisemits always find out”)
    publicly making racist remark (obviously not black-white but ethnic)–you have to make face and move away from the performer, older lady may comment-may make anyone in Israel and we are quiet explicit on the subject of origin and heritage (as with previous I believe it to be part of safety precautions on antisemitism)
    publicly shaming, scolding threatening own child- -you have to make face and move away from the performer, older lady may comment (practically always my compatriots)

    3)sales and services -scars of economical history
    Service troubles are more of economical relics of socialism with its deficit of goods+fixed prices+ fixed wages. Seller has goods that are wanted, and he have no interest what so ever to part with them. It is much better for him to trade them as gifts for other goods or services. Surprisingly those habits die painfully slow (we hoped they would be dead next morning after letting prices loose). Israel got enormous injection of people bred in harsh late soviet socialism (convinced that costumer should seek favors from the seller) we affect Israel from both sides the booth. On the other hand Israel had it self rather intensive socialistic+food and good shortages history. With eggs, cottage and butter -kibbutz breakfast dreamt of by city parents (for there kids), special cards sent by foreign relatives permitting family to buy more food or imported supplies, new cloth once a year et cetera, et cetera. All that at hand with official mockery at servil habits of mythological capitalist vendors.
    Those scars are rather raw yet.

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  21. As one ages, I think one becomes less critical of others and other issues occupy one’s mind beside the manners of the locals. At the beginning , rudeness of israelis was a problem of the oleh chadash , now it remains the problem of the guy being rude. Besides teenagers acting like animals on busses , i don’t notice rudeness anymore – depends on the lenses you are wearing

    Allan
    Allan Katz recently posted..Child Obesity – Unconditional Parenting and SDT self determined theoryMy Profile

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  22. I’ve lived in Israel for 9 years, and while I’ve had rude, petty and abusive bureaucrats I’ve never had a rude salesperson or waiter. They’ve always been quick, courteous, and while they’ve given me their opinion they have never argued with me. I have had bully-boy employers who try to trod on you and push the limits with labor laws, but it didn’t take me long to realize that in Israel you are expected to know and assert your rights – and when you do suddenly they are trying to placate you. As crazy as this country is, and as off as some of its notions of law and policy are, it all gels and works in a strange way. And, Israelis have taught me that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” You simply have to assert yourself to succeed here. That doesn’t mean Israelis couldn’t take a page about treating everyone with human dignity from the outset (a good many don’t), instead of waiting for an emergency to rush to their aid in, but as brusque as the Sabra’s can be the verse “I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me” works here. Be polite, direct, and honest and most your new countrymen will respond in kind. However, the next yakking yenta who jams her cart into me in line and keeps the pressure on is going to get an earful. I’ve never experienced this “little bump” in the check-out line people talk about. Its always like they’ve got a ramming bar and want to shove you through. But, that may just be my local store…

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