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The Sabra (native-born Israeli) has a reputation of being rough and rude. Just like the cactus fruit.

The prickly pear cactus is endangered (photo credit: Professor Zvika Mendel, The Volcani Center)
The prickly pear cactus is endangered
(photo credit: Professor Zvika Mendel, The Volcani Center)
How are you? May I help you? Please. Thank you.
These 10 words are ones we don’t hear enough in Israel.
The Sabra (native-born Israeli) has a reputation of being rough and rude. Just like the cactus fruit. Israelis typically see themselves as prickly on the outside (presumably for protective purposes) and sweet on the inside. And while this is a stereotype that can be rationalized away by endless excuses, we have all encountered the off-putting behavior of many locals.
The people most shocked by it are generally new immigrants, and foreign tourists and business people used to more courteous conduct in their countries of origin.
Just as Israel has gained a reputation for helping other countries in times of need, we think it is time for us as a nation to take on a more welcoming, kinder demeanor toward each other.
To this end, The Jerusalem Post proposes the following 10 commandments of everyday etiquette.
1. Be polite. It doesn’t take much time or effort to treat others politely. At home, at work, on the roads and on the street, let’s talk to each other and behave respectfully. It is important to be hospitable when greeting strangers and visitors from abroad, but also when dealing with family, friends and colleagues with whom we interact often.
2. Be courteous. Let’s be more civil and well-mannered in our conduct. While politeness generally refers to speech, being courteous requires us to relate properly to other human beings. And as the word “courtesy” implies, it doesn’t cost anything.
3. Be patient. Don’t get angry, shout or honk your car horn unnecessarily. If you keep a cool head while others are losing their tempers, it can only help calm the situation. Impatience is one of the main causes of impoliteness.
4. Be respectful. The Torah instructs us to respect our parents. We should also show respect for other relatives, friends and strangers. Children should be taught to respect their elders from a young age. In business dealings, in the service trade such as in stores and restaurants and on the roads, let’s be respectful to others and expect them to reciprocate.
5. Be helpful. If you see someone who is in trouble or simply needs a helping hand, don’t hesitate to offer assistance. If you are in a position to help someone, why not do so? 6. Be nice. This is a fundamental rule to heed whenever possible. We human beings are all in this world together, so let’s be nice to each other whenever possible. No one is too busy to be nice. There are always nice ways to relate to people, even if you’re preoccupied with something else.
7. Be kind. If there’s an opportunity to be kind to another human being, don’t miss it. Kindness is almost always appreciated, especially by those in need.
8. Be gentle. None of us responds well to violent language or behavior. Unless you’re being threatened violently by someone, try to be gentle with others, especially children. Your gentle approach could provide an example for others to follow, and affect the way people behave in your immediate surroundings.
9. Be generous. It doesn’t cost much to be generous in relating to other people, whatever the circumstances.
If you see someone trying to cross the road, or a car trying to get into your lane, why not stop and help them? 10. Be thankful. This is a basic behavior which we all need to nurture. Whether it’s in our daily lives or in prayers, let’s appreciate and say thank you for what we have. And it helps to smile when giving thanks.
This simple facial gesture can communicate that you are truly thankful and appreciative.
This list is clearly not exhaustive, but it’s a starting point. There are an estimated 300,000 Anglos in Israel (which has a total population of more than 8 million), and if we make a point of being polite, perhaps others will follow suit. If we treat each other with more respect, perhaps it will spill over into our relationships with our neighbors in the region and the world. It starts with us.