A story today – one of the best illustrations of typical Israeli behavior that I’ve ever heard. A friend of mine made aliyah with her family when she was 10. She had 3 sisters (one older, two younger) and their father stayed back in the U.S. to finish up some business stuff, intending to join his wife and 4 children as soon as he could. Their first apartment was 7 floors up, in an otherwise empty building that (as luck would have it) had the electricity and water turned off. (Let me emphasize for any readers out there who are not familiar with Israel: Israel has a first-world infrastructure. This was an oddity.) The mother of the family called and tried to get the city to turn on their utilities, as they were supposed to, but despite promises she received, nothing changed. This, in addition to dealing with everything a new immigrant has to deal with, on top of having 4 children under the age of 13 in a country fairly foreign to them, with her husband over 6000 miles away, was more than a little stressful.
So one day, she was driving the car they had rented for the first couple of weeks, and she accidentally turned the wrong way onto a one-way street. It happens to the best of us, especially when we’re stressed and preoccupied. She encountered another car driving the correct way, who responded in typical Israeli fashion by honking his horn vigorously, to alert the poor woman that she was wrong and he was right, and she should therefore get the heck out of his way. He soon escalated. He got out of his car, walked over to hers, and started yelling at her, a far more effective way of informing her in no uncertain terms that she was driving the wrong way and what the heck was wrong with her and was she an idiot and so on and so on. It was too much. She got out of the car and started yelling back, letting all of her troubles out, emphasizing that she wasn’t an idiot, she just had no power, no water, 4 daughters underfoot, an absentee husband, and she was a new immigrant. The other driver still worked up, just got angrier, but this time on her behalf. “You have no power, and no water? That’s just unacceptable!” He promptly marched down to the city offices with her and yelled at enough people till they turned on her power and water.
That’s Israelis. They’ll yell at you about the small things, and yell for you about the big things.