It’s some sort of rite of passage that olim go through; the idea of “becoming more Israeli.” In this case, I don’t mean wearing flowy skirts or forgetting grammatically-correct English.
I mean the process of becoming overly defensive and jumping to attack at any flare of doubt or wrongness – the process of becoming more accusatory, more hot-tempered, more impatient… more ‘Israeli’.
You arrive here with the belief that in order to survive, you have to push your way to the front. You have to claw your way to getting what you want. It’s an image of Israel we Anglo olim carry with us from our youth to our first visit to Misrad Hapnim, and really, through the rest of our Israeli lives.
And the more time goes by, the more I see that supposed-Israeli beast rise out of me. My Hebrew flows better in anger and my voice becomes loud and my eyes dim to any kind of patient truth I might normally seek out.
It’s very disappointing and I’m saddened by my reliance on that ‘Israeliness’ that has developed. If we only conform to the stereotypes we’ve always perceived, how are relations going to change among Israelis? How are we going to achieve understanding and tolerance in this country?
I don’t like that part of me and I want to work on toning it; as a conflict management student and as a generally empathetic and tolerant person, I feel that I can retain that image while living an Israeli life.
And I invite any other Israeli – or potential oleh – to try the same.