Thursday, January 26, 2006

Jameel the Israeli? Who are we kidding?

Allow me to preface this posting with a rather scary thought; I am traveling in a car on my way to Heathrow airport having spent the day in the UK on business.

In an effort to show that Israelies are fearless, my coworker rented a car and is currently driving on the wrong side of the road, with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car, and this is only the second time he has ever driven in England.

To add to the excitement, the car is also a stick shift, and the engine is constantly racing -- the driver keeps slightly missing the correct gear to be in.

To keep my mind off this incredibly scary ride, I'm sitting in the back seat, blogging myself into oblivion.

As dedicated Muqata readers are well aware, my former self, Bernie, grew up in the United States of America. Moving to Israel in my twenties, it will be impossible to fully lose my American accent when I speak Hebrew.

I'm still culturally attached to the US in many ways; family, friends, I fly to the US for work, I even have a current US (one of the 50) state-issued driver's license. I may not fly the American flag on July 4rth, but I would love a July 4rth barbecue and Turkey for Thanksgiving is always welcome.

What I find so interesting is that when I go on business to the UK, my British colleagues consider me Israeli. Not even an expat American living in Israel -- I'm ISRAELI. We had a meeting today about cultural differences between Israelis and British, and it was so weird hearing them define ME as the Israeli.

I usually talk reservedly, don't shout during meetings, don't interrupt people and don't get overly passionate in an argument over which looping mechanism should be used or if the project plan makes sense. Yet -- everyone pointed at ME, Jameel the Israeli, as the typical Israeli of all Israeli behavior.

How did I turn from American to Israeli in the eyes of the world?

A few years back, I was in Albuquerque on business as well. Some big SouthWesterner stopped me on the street and said;

NewMexican: "You're from Israel, aintchya?"

Jameel: "Wow, yes I am. How did you know that?"

NewMexican: "I could tell from that thing on your head" (as he pointed to my kippa).

Jameel: "Well sir, you happen to be correct, I am in fact, from Israel."

NewMexican: "You ISRAH-AY-LEES must have one hell of an ED-JU-CAY-TIONAL system!"

Jameel: "Actually, we have some great Universities and schools in Israel --The Technion, Hebrew University, Bar Ilan -- how are you so familiar with our schooling that you can say with such determination that we have a great educational system?"

NewMexican: "'Cause you speak better English than I do!"
Not wanting to ruin our reputation, I left it at that and went on my way.

I guess my klita, my absorbtion into Israel is now complete.

PS: Made it back home safely. Remind me next week to tell you about my trip to Manila...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

bernie, guess you’re just one of those stereotypical, gun-toting orthodox american jews from brooklyn who moved to the west bank and then say its all yours

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous: But how would they know that in the UK?

I leave my gun at home so I can get through Ben-Gurion security, and don't openly advertise that I live in YESHA. Besides, they didn't say "settler" -- they said "ISRAELI".

tafka PP said...

Funny, "Bernie":

I had a similar experience last year...

http://goingslightlymad.blogspot.com/2005/03/cnn-rocks.html

(Sorry, still don't know how to do Hyperlinks)

bec said...

just make sure they don't send any "native" israelis over, it might ruin the reputation of the whole country.
:D

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

bec: About 8 years ago, I was on a plane to Dublin, and sat next to a very friendly Irish person.

We talked the entire flight, and at the end, he asked me if I was really from Israel. I said, "Sure...why not?"

He replied that he recently finished a month long tour in South America with lots of Israeli tourists. He went on and on about how they ruined stuff everyone, and made everyone's lives miserable. He then said - "Well, I'm glad I met you so I don't have to assume they are all like those guys I met there..."

After getting out luggage, he offered me a ride into Dublin from the airport, and I accepted is offer, since he seemed like an OK kind of person. I just told him I needed to stop at an ATM to get some local currency. The ATM refused my VISA card...no big deal...I would get money from the bank the following morning.

He said, "There's no way I'm leaving you in Dublin with no money..." And he gave me 200 pounds (About 400 dollars). I refused and told him I couldn't accept the money, and after arguing with each other for 15 minutes, I accepted it. Obviously I sent it back to him in the morning with a thank you card.

I guess anyone can be a rep for Israel with the right attitude.

FrumGirl said...

what an amazing Kiddush Hashem that is! Very cool! Jameel I am surprised you didnt comment about the Hamas win in the elections yesterday....

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

FrumGirl: Thanks. About Hamas --- I think its a very good thing.

Granted, I'm sure I'll get it over the head for writing this, but whats the big deal? Both Fatah and Hamas want us dead and pushed into the sea. Its very easy to stick your head in the sand and say, lets make peace with Fatah, since they are moderates...yet the Hamas...they are extremists.

The Fatah are killers and terrorists just as much as the Hamas are. The big difference is that the Hamas are fundamentalist Islamists, while the PA Fatah are nationalistic terrorist opportunists.

In fact, the Fatah are alot more corrupt than the Hamas is...

Do you know how many stories there are of corruption, torture, extortion, and rape by the PA police against their own population? Thats something you would never see from the Hamas.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think Hamas are that great for us either...but I would rather see the Hamas there, and get all the world scared, than for people to be complacent and happy with the PA and Fatah.

Sweettooth120 said...

And we wonder how Bush got to be President?

Your New Mexican says it all.

Truth said...

Jameel:
Do you know how many stories there are of corruption, torture, extortion, and rape by the PA police against their own population? Thats something you would never see from the Hamas.

Aw, you just don't know where to look, that's all...

I'll post some more when I can stop laughing...

[Someone who works on the janitorial staff told me that Egbert Omlette had to ditch his expensive silk bikini-briefs after he got the results of the PA elections]


Truth.

Tovya @ Zion Report said...

That's hilarious. Believe it or not, something very similar at work happened to me the other day. I had the same response... silence, i figured if this guy had something nice to say about Israel I would just keep my mouth shut for the sake of kiddush Hashem.

RR said...

Egbert Omlette? LOL

Your very entertaining anecdotes just go to show that each of us really CAN be an effective ambassador for Israel. We've gotta balance out those other havoc-wreaking Israeli tourists!

MC Aryeh said...

A wonderful story. Horrible what an awful rep Israelis have in the outside world! Too early to remind you to post about Manila?

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I had a friend who made aliyá when she was young. All those years growing up in Israel she was known as "the American" among her friends and acquaintances... and then when she decides to spend a year learning in a yeshiva of mostly Diasporans she suddenly became "The Israeli" :P .

Litvshe said...

Ah...the famous Manilla story...how you and Moshe escaped from the Philipino mob by the seat of your pants...
Ah...those were the heady days of the dot com bubble.

Palestinian Princess said...

Bernie, I think we can learn a lot from eachother... I am excited and interested to read your blog.

the sabra said...

"cool"

chhhhhh

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