My post, What Defines Israeli Parenting?, generated a lively discussion. Lack of manners among Israeli children came up again and again.
Please also read this response by Ruth: Anglo Immigrants: Arbiters of Social Rightness?.
Yesterday someone named named Trudy left the following comment:
We spent our sabbatical year in Israel in 07-08. It was a fabulous experience. I agree with most of the observations/comments above. For me, the most striking thing was the bad behaviour of the children AND the adults who had obviously been parented in a similar manner. Don’t get me wrong. My children also misbehave, but the difference is that, when they do, I notice, I care and I act. Many Israeli parents do not notice, care or act. They are raising another generation of rude, spoiled children. I had visited Israel 3 times before our sabbatical year and, of course, I noticed and experienced the rude behaviour of both adults and children. However, over the course of the year, this aspect of Israeli culture REALLY began to wear on me. It was embarrassing, as a Jew, to imagine what non-Jewish tourists thought of “us” as Jews. They are not just seeing rude Israelis, they are seeing rude Jews. Many of the Israelis that I spent time with while in Israel were also embarrassed by the behaviour of their fellow Israelis and their children. The difference, in almost every case, was that the people I spent time with – family and friends – had themselves lived in Canada or the US.
I should state again, because this reads as very negative. We loved our time in Israel and look forward to future vacations there. And to be sure, there are things that Israeli parents probably do a better job of than North American parents.
Mimi of Israeli Kitchen responded:
Trudy’s comments about Israeli behavior are unfortunately accurate. By American/Canadian lights, there is no culture of politeness here – no customer service – lots of confrontation.
On the other hand, it’s necessary not to care what outsiders might think if Israel is to survive in an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel world.
My Canadian sister almost dies of embarrassment when I respond to confrontation from people on the street. (I’ve lived here 33 years.) She would much rather that I backed down, and answered softly to defuse the situation. She covers her face and shakes her head when I answer back.
My sis comes from a country with secure borders. A country whose citizens don’t experience the daily, hourly personal and national stress that we have. With a larger middle class used to more leisure and more material comfort, consideration and politeness come easier, maybe.
My life experience is different. I’ve sat in buses wondering if I’ll make it to my destination, or if my destiny will be to get blown up by a suicide bomber in the next few minutes. My children have attended funerals of kids their own ages, victims of terror. I look at my precious little grandchildren and pray that peace will come before they reach army age.
If there’s one thing rude Israeli culture has taught me, it’s that it takes assertiveness to survive.
So yes, Israelis are missing an essential element in that which lubricates social relations. It hurts us here and abroad. I’m perfectly willing to own that many of us need to be educated in manners, consideration, trust and trustworthiness.
But that hard, assertive core keeps us alive. No apologies for that.