Is it just me, or has living in Israel made you more aggressive?

I’ve been living in Israel for about five years, and since then have noticed a steady incline in my aggressive behavior. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not knocking old ladies out of the way in mad dashes towards the bus. I’m not getting into shouting matches with vendors in the shuk over two shekels.

I am, however, honking my horn when the driver in front of me doesn’t step on the gas the second the light turns green (I’m on a tight schedule!). I am threatening my cell phone company that I will leave if they don’t give me a better deal. I’m also telling off those drivers who I see parking their cars in such a way that will block me from getting through the narrow Nachlaot streets with my stroller (Chatzuf, atah chosem et ha’kvish!).

Whereas in the beginning I felt bad for doing these things, now I don’t. It’s a matter of survival of the fittest. This is the way Israeli society works, and if I don’t want to be a friar, the ultimate Israeli sucker, then I better hustle and stay on top of my game.

Because “Good things come to those who wait” is an idiom that doesn’t apply here. “Good things come to those who get them for themselves” – that’s the motto of this country.

And on a day-to-day basis, I am frustrated by this constant struggle to come out on top. By teenagers pushing in front of me (eight-months-pregnant-me!) as well as elderly people in order to be one of the first on the bus. By the intense ferocity with which I guard my place on line at the supermarket for fear of being cut. By the hyper-awareness I must employ to make sure that even after living near the shuk for five years, I don’t get ripped off by vendors due to my American accent. And yet, if I don’t do these things, I’m a sucker. So I go against my nature and continue with these aggressive ways simply because I have to.

If I was truly Israeli, I would be able to take these things in stride. That’s the difference between Anglos and Israelis – while pushing and catapulting oneself forward (both physically and figuratively) is essential to this survival of the fittest method, Israelis don’t get angry about it. It’s natural. Anglos, on the other hand, do.

My goal must be then, to be truly like an Israeli – to do these things without getting angered or annoyed, without taking things personally. To fend for myself but realize that no one is intentionally trying to pull one over on me – it’s just the way people are brought up, the culture, and it’s not personal.

And it’s this culture that has bred Israel to be a “Start-Up Nation,” that has pushed its citizens to excel in world arenas of science, sports, business, beauty and more. It’s this culture that has enabled us to survive (and thrive) despite the continuous wars and terrorism that our neighbors constantly throw on us.

And if Israelis softened up in their everyday lives, who knows if we would be the successful country and nation that we are today?

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