Posted by: hatzihatzi | February 3, 2012

Aggressively nice

A lot of times I feel the need to explain to people, my husband’s not an asshole, he’s Israeli. I think politeness and niceties vary by culture. I met another woman with an Israeli husband, and she could relate. She told me that before she and her husband go on double dates, she has to remind him not to make any one cry. I have not met my friend’s husband, but if I understand correctly, he is not sabra, so apparently being what Americans call rude is something you get with your Israeli passport.

Sabra is the fruit of a particular cactus. It is spiny on the outside and supposed to be sweet inside. As applied to a person, it’s a Jew born in Israel. They are supposed to be prickly on the outside but nice to their friends. This makes no sense to me. Everyone is nice to their friends. That’s why they are called friends.

After spending some time in Israel with a 23-24 month old, however, I maybe have started to understand sabra. I think it means aggressively nice. E and I were about to board a train, and I was pushing Q in his stroller. The train came, and a woman pushed a head of me. I thought it was pretty rude to push ahead of a woman with a stroller. What was her goddamned hurry? The train wouldn’t leave until we were all on board anyway. Then she grabbed the front of my stroller and helped me lift it up the few steps between the platform and the train itself. She pushed ahead of people, shoving others out of her way, to help a stranger get on the train.

On that same train ride, Q was pretty fussy. He was tired and crying, and I was trying my best to calm him using Dr. Karp’s techniques. The man sitting on the other side of the aisle started to yell at us. While it’s true that almost anything said in Hebrew sounds like yelling and it sounds like an angry language generally, but this guy was actually yelling at us, and not in a “I have to speak loudly to be overheard” sort of way. I asked E what he said, and he told me “let the baby cry! I don’t care! It’s ok!”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: