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The ‘stupid Israeli’ within me
By RONA ZURIEL
09/12/2013
And as Mahatma Gandhi said: Be the change that you wish to see in the world. I am following his advice and loving the stupid-Israeli within me.
 
Here I was leaving Hadar mall, heading back to my car, walking peacefully with my threeyear old, enjoying the last minutes of daylight, when this young Anglo-saxon woman walked toward me engaged in a fierce phone conversation, spewing “these stupid Israelis” right when she passed me by. I wanted to follow her and shout back at her “no, you’re stupid,” but I didn’t. And anyway, isn’t she Israeli, too? A few days later I was taking my two youngest to the medical clinic at 22 Emek Refaim St. in Jerusalem and parked my car in the last available parking spot on small Azariya St. that connecting Emek Refaim St. and Rakevet St.

If you know the street you remember that where the street is broader (in the direction of Aroma) you can park your car vertically ( there are white lines signalling that) and up the street where the gym is located there are two more spots to park your car horizontally because the road is narrower there and parking your car vertically can block the access of trucks or heavy vehicles to the underground entrance to the building.

I parked my car horizontally in front of the gym, and when I got out of the car I saw that another driver had parked his car vertically in front of me, thus quite blocking the road for trucks. I wasn’t about to say anything, but the elderly Anglo-saxon couple to whom the other car belonged complained: Why do you park your car horizontally instead of vertically, taking up parking space that other cars could use? I explained to the elderly man that this was the way to park the car in that spot, and while we were discussing it an Anglo-saxon woman passed us by mumbled something about how right the elderly couple was, in a disrespectful manner, before hurrying to the gym.

Then, the “stupid Israeli” within me got angry and I declared that I had lived in Jerusalem for 42 years, hinting to the man that he was new here, and that this is how we park cars in that spot ever since I can remember.

The elderly Anglo-saxon man then informed me he’d been living here for the better part of a century. And then the Polish side of my “stupid Israeli” within said: You know, that’s us, stupid Israelis. The man answered: Maybe that’s why Israelis have such a bad reputation.

I then explained again that down the street one can park vertically – hence the white vertical lines – but not up the street.

So the elderly man said that he had no place else to park (I know, I took the last spot).

So I said: Mr., I am willing to give you my parking place, but I can’t park my car differently in this spot. And that was it.

We met again in the elevator – I think he felt uncomfortable for his own reasons, and I felt lousy for what I considered disrespectful behavior of mine toward an elderly person. You should have offered him your parking spot in the first place and that’s it, I said to myself.

“What do you want? Why are you complaining? Israelis do the same thing to other Israelis whether Ethiopian, Russian, Morrocan, and the list goes on and on,” my Anglo-saxon friend told me when I met her Saturday morning at the zoo with our children.

I told her about the “stupid Israeli” incident and about the parking spot incident and how I felt that there was no way for me to win. I told her, “You criticize Israelis for things like butting in line or raising their voice, and when I obey the law, I’m suddenly a ‘stupid Israeli.’ It’s a lose-lose situation for me.”

So my friend told me, “You should have told her that she was also a ‘stupid Israeli,’ because she also lives here.”

I was struggling to maintain my posture and dignity told here that wasn’t good enough.

So, what am I left with? I’m back to square one. Back to me. Although I have not a single Anglo-saxon bone in my body I will try to sum up my thoughts in a few short sentences: I guess we all have that ‘stupid Israeli’ side within us, where we are all being critically watched and observed by others – finding to learn about ourselves, first, through our most superficial characteristics.

Manners and adequate are only one example of such superficial characteristics and I’m not referring to rude people by that. Even Iranians have a “stupid-Israeli” side to them – no offence, Iranians! And as Mahatma Gandhi said: Be the change that you wish to see in the world. I am following his advice and loving the stupid-Israeli within me.

You should too.

The writer is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, sister-in-law, daughter-inlaw, friend, college, Jerusalemite, Israeli, women, Jewish, secular, half Yemenite, half Polish, middle-eastern, Levantine, European, citizen, citizen of the world, and the list goes on and on.
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