As much as I hate admitting it, while I love Israel, I am not generally enamored of its people. Call me a self hating Israeli if you must. At home my social circle safely consists of mostly ex-pats and the occasional approved Israeli. Out here in Thailand however, I can’t spit without hitting a Hebrew speaker, and what the heck, it’s a little bit of familiarity in a foreign place.
While Israelis moving in packs of three or more are generally loud, obnoxious and unbearable, one or two of them can be fun. So today I hit the open seas in a tri-ak with two of my co-nationalists.
But first an aside: An interesting thing happened on the way to this little island near the Cambodian border – an all too significant amount of money got stolen out of my room. More than the financial loss, which after a days perspective I realize is NOT the end of the world, the real loss was my sense of confidence and safety as a traveler.
It seems the act shook me to the point that out of the turquoise sea today I reverted back to my totally American Jewish understanding of the world and it’s dangers.
For instance, at one point we were approaching a fishing boat far from shore. The Israelis call out to whoever is on board and no one answers, even when we are close enough to almost step right on deck. The ship seems abandoned, nets acast, and I’m wondering if I’m the only one thinking the obvious, they’ve all been eaten by sharks and we’re next.
Still undeterred by this terror, the Israelis (straight out of the army and with the arrogance of invincibility I might add, all except for the vigilant use of sunscreen) row on to a cliff which they scale to jump back into the ocean, assuring me that there is a small spot where the jagged rocks underneath the surface are far down enough.
despite their successful jumps, all I could see was a vision of them awkwardly swimming the kayak back to shore, carrying me and my bloody broken leg. The blood would of course attract the aforementioned sharks, the Israelis, despite putting up a good fight, would be eaten, and the shark, now full, would leave me to drift out to sea and die of dehydration and blood loss.
This is how my brain works. It’s a combination of saturation levels of cinema and growing up a Jew in America, with a history of genetic neurosis that dates back even farther than Woody Allen. As American Jews, we are taught that part of our cultural heritage is worry. If we don’t worry, something might happen. As if it is our concentration on the worst case scenario that is precisely the thing that keeps it from happening.
I loathe it, and I would rather my kids grow up secure in abilities of their own bodies and jumping from cliffs than staying at home afraid of an allergy attack. It’s the grab life by the balls mentality that I like about Israelis, even when they are embarrassing on other levels.
For instance – what on God’s green earth makes Israeli men (and sometimes women) think that underwear is an acceptable substitute for proper swim wear (not that speedos are proper swim wear)? There is nothing less attractive on a man than a pair of wet, sagging, slightly see through briefs. Really though, if we could figure out why they think this is ok, I feel we will have unlocked part of the puzzle of why Israelis act like they do.
As for me, I just gotta watch out for falling coconuts. No, really, they can kill you….