Every time I come to Israel, it happens at least once that I hear this order. And it seriously depends on who is demanding to strip off your German corset, because I couldn't always differ, if it is meant to be humorous or offensive. When it comes to my “Germanness”, it usually means timidity, restraint and this frustrating habit of saying sorry once too often. And even if one is bearing this demand every day, this corset is tight, and I guess, most Germans still do not know, if they really want to get rid of it or if it is just too comfortable. Its comfort is nothing else than a distinct idea of a well ordered world, boredom as security. It is not for nothing that Germany's first chancellor after the war won with the slogan “No experiments” his third legislative period. This actually sums up the whole issue perfectly, for we dread everything, that is coming from outside the box, at least in our every day life. Have you ever tried knocking at a friend's door without giving a call at least one hour before? In the most cases, I bet, you will have to leave without entering.
So why are we then coming to Israel of all other places in the world?
Many people in my circle of attention, who have been to Israel, appear to share the same fascination for the country and its people: it just takes a 4hrs flight to get confronted with their very, but familiar counterpart. We actually visit a Europe outside Europe. And we mistake Israel for Europe, which leads to much confusion and the bizarre wish to keep on your German corset. We enjoy the comfort of technology and infrastructure but get crazy over the standstill on Shabbat and the certain unpredictability that you can find just in the Middle East. And we are not used to “offenses” on the Shuks and in the streets, even though, Germans might enjoy them. My personal ordeal was the week of Pessah in 2016. After five years I found a way to come back to Israel for a little longer and got seriously frustated and confused about the nearly neurotic (at least from my angle) hurry to dispose everything based on Gluten. This is something you'll never find anywhere else and it turned into kind of an adventure to miss a usually well ordered system and your typical culinary preferences (guess what, it's bread and beer). And this is the actual point: we love order, even if we call ourselfes radically alternative. In germany, unusual encounters, behaviour and improvisation appears to be the gates of the limbo and thus this gets sanctioned for sure. A queue in the mall does not take longer than 10 minutes (that's the bearable maximum!), the buses run right on time and everyone talking louder than oneself is obviously crazy. And now imagine us right in the centre of Mahane Yehuda on a Friday morning!
Not to get me wrong, we love traveling to Israel and meet the people, but furthermost it always sounds like an adventure to others and it primps you with a certain fearlessness (my mother's worries still echoe in my head). But at the end of the day, we embrace our German corset and take a certain refuge to it, because we know, it takes much more work outs to enable such a split between the Europe and the other Europe. But we will gladly look foward to the next encounter, no matter how confusing it will get.