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The ‘Ugly Israeli’ abroad and at home

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Israelis traveling outside the country have developed a reputation for unruliness and rudeness. A chance encounter at the check-in counter at Madrid airport a week ago drove home this perception in spades. After reaching the woman at the counter and apologizing for the delay in finding the locator form for entry into Great Britain, checking the bags, and thanking her for her patience, she asked that I remove my mask. A routine request in these confusing days of international travel. She then thanked me, saying that she wanted to see the face of the first person during her twelve years with the airlines “from your country” who did not raise her voice, argue or yell “especially at their wives.” I was stunned. Apologizing for my compatriots, I was told it is not my fault. She didn’t understand when I explained that it pains me that this is the way she sees Israelis.

It is much too facile to dismiss this brief exchange as evidence of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, or rising anti-Israel sentiments. Flashback to 36 hours earlier when a delayed and totally overbooked flight of the very same airlines left some 30 passengers, who had waited for hours to check-in, behind. The mayhem led by Israeli passengers was unbelievable, just as the way they were treated was inexcusable. The flight landed eleven hours late without a single suitcase in the hold. The subsequent pandemonium should best be left to one’s imagination.

Yet such tales are commonplace. Israeli citizens, in their free and frank way, have long been noted for the vocalness of both their joy and their frustrations. They have never been lauded for their decorum or for their concern for rules, regulations and protocols. Stereotypes are by their very nature exaggerated; they do, however, rest on more than a kernel of truth.

These scenes – and even more aggressive experiences – are familiar to most Israelis from their daily life at home. Violence and offensive conduct have become a national scourge in Israel. Headlines of the last few weeks scream of escalation on every possible front: in the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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