Israel is a country filled with so much amazing history, breathtaking landscapes, incredible coastal plains, spectacular valleys and natural beauty. But of late there has been a blot on the Israeli landscape. This blot comes from a mindset which leaves no specific age group unaffected.
This mindset believes that they can do no wrong and will argue, scream and at times, even fight anyone who claims otherwise. This is the developing culture of the ‘ugly Israeli’. It may not be something so new. But the fact that everyone with a smart phone has the ability to video in a semi high quality format and upload to websites such as Facebook and YouTube as these events occur, has brought these incidents to the attention of the public. The phenomena has even been given a label; ‘The Ugly Israeli’.
These videos of Israelis behaving badly have gone viral and have even been picked up by mainstream Israeli media outlets. Scenes from an airplane where a passenger, aided by her friends, demands for chocolate on a Tel Aviv bound flight in February, was circulated in every national newspaper. This incident was even re-enacted in gest on Israeli television. This particular incident was even re-posted on the Facebook page of Jamal Dajani, an Arab American graduate of Columbia University and self-proclaimed champion of the Palestinian cause. He used this specific video to show the world how disgusting ALL Israelis are and tarred the entire Jewish population of Israel with the same brush.
On March 1st, in a hotel in Eilat, after being locked out of their hotel rooms for parking in a space designated for disabled drivers, hotel guests both verbally and physically abused the staff of the hotel. Once again this caught the attention of the Israeli media and once again the attention of Jamal Dajani.
With the growing trend of videoing these incidents new Facebook community pages are springing up. Two such pages, entitled “ישראלי מכוער? נמאסת” – “Ugly Israeli? Tiresome” and “חושפים את הישראלי המכוער” “Exposing the Ugly Israeli”. These pages document everything from cars parking on the sidewalk to fist fights between foul mouthed taxi drivers. It also highlights one of the biggest dangers to everyday life, the motorized bicycle and the motorized scooter. These unlicensed methods of transportation with 80cc engines can reach speeds of around 40kmh and are generally ridden on the sidewalk by school children. Despite adverts claiming that these modes of transportation should only be driven on the road or a bicycle lane, riders are everywhere. Only the other week as I had parked my car and was heading inside my house with my eleven year old daughter, I was yelled by a youth riding at high speed on the sidewalk. Obviously I wasn’t quick enough at moving out of his way and he inconveniently had to drive around me. How long will it be before someone is run down and killed on the sidewalk by one of these death traps?
Recently I found myself up close and uncomfortable with one of these ‘Ugly Israeli thugs’. As the traffic light turned from red to green and I began to drive forward, a youth on a T-Max 500 (a pretty powerful motorbike) drove directly at me in order to cross my path to mount a crowded sidewalk. I did what any other Israeli would do in this situation. I honked my horn. The motorbike driver was so offended by the sounding of my horn that he screamed abuse at me and, as he rode by the side of my car, lashed out with his fist and made contact with my wing mirror. I was in shock. So I exited the car and asked him why he did that. His reaction made me grab my smartphone and begin filming him. It wasn’t pleasant and below is a video that I took asking the youth why he acted like this. He really didn’t get and just resorted to name calling and pushing my camera out of the way.
Is there a moral to this story? I hope so. I hope that there are enough decent people to teach their children and understand themselves that this is not the way to behave. The use of ‘ever more popular’ recorded examples demonstrates that this is not the way civilized people behave in a civilized society. There is little that the Israeli police do or actually can do, to calm these situations down. All that we can do is expect the highest level of behavior from ourselves and those around us.
As a new Oleh entering my 16th year I am proud to be Israeli and to live in a Jewish homeland. I want this pride to be inherited by my children and passed onto my grandchildren. It’s time for decent people to take a stand and actively name and shame the culprits using social media. Perhaps politicians will also soon find the need to make these issues worth speaking about and changing. After all, we are supposed to be a shining light to nations of the world.