Tuesday, September 30, 2008
"Your political ideals are backward and responsible for everything wrong with this country...but please pass the Hummus."
The obscure title of this blog has a point...I haven't gone completely insane. The past couple weeks have served as my initial immersion into general Israeli society. When I came here in my junior year, I lived here but I did not REALLY live here. Using the bus system, talking to Israelis -- these and more are all the things I am now experiencing that make this trip more "real" than the last one. Some of the observations of Israelis I have made are the following. Wherein there is more than 1 Israeli, there will be ALWAYS be at least two juxtaposing opinions. This applies to the most simple cases. For instance, a specific question I have been asking is what unit I should go to if I would like to join a more elite unit. Sample answers are Sayeret Matkal, Shaldag, and intelligence. These 3 suggestions came from only 2 Israelis. This also seems to happen constantly when asking for directions to anywhere. If you ask one passenger on the bus which stop to get off at in order to get to a certain place, his neighbor will almost surely disagree with him. As you can imagine, this makes things difficult sometimes and very frustrating. Such is life here -- balagan. But at the same time, there is a connection among many Israelis. It is a very terse and somewhat abrupt rhetoric that is very refreshing in a way. You don't have to "guess" what somebody is trying to say. If they want the Hummus, they will not phrase it passively like, "It would be quite nice if someone would pass the hummus." A more typical Israeli dinner table phrase would be, "Ay! Give me the hummus," while Lafa and Shawarma drop out of his or her mouth. It's irresponsible to generalize but I think that the advanced societies of the far east, western Europe, and the United States have strayed too far from raw human emotion to the point where it is considered impolite to say your true intention without it being disguised by a connecting clause expressing gratitude or a preemptive apology. Here, everybody (again -- wrong to generalize) is more open and forthcoming. If they think something is weird or obnoxious, you will know. You even see it in the kindergarten. The kids I work with are very open and have very little hesitation toward anything. Kids all over are more or less like this, but more so here in Israel. Something I think about every work day that is hard for me to cope with is that in about 13 years, these kids will be in the military and some of them, despite their innocence now, may die. Such is the substance behind the attitude that drives Israeli society. There is no time to mince words.