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Ten things that I hate about life in Israel

I wish that public smoking would be banned already

If you have read any of my blog posts, you must have realized that this South African has learned to love the land of Israel and all the crazy Israelis inside it.

It took awhile, probably because it took me so long to learn Hebrew, but it has become a place I call home. A tourist may think that the locals are kinda rude, I think that they just have a tendency to speak their minds

Many Israeli's may not eat properly with a knife and fork or know how to stand in a queue but it does not really irk the heck out of me. I think that their warm and helpful nature makes up for these small etiquette faux pas.

Buuttt… has to be realistic and acknowledge that there is always room for improvement. Right? So here is my list of dislikes about life in Israel. 

Note that I am not mentioning anything about Israel's unique security situation. Just your ordinary basic garden variety life in Israel dislikes. Most are people related but not all.

These are the things that they DO not tell you about in the tourist brochures...

1. People spitting in the street

This is one of the etiquette rules that I am not willing to give a pass on. I mean, ewww!! WHY would someone want to spit in public and spread their germs all over the place? 
A guy once spat on my shoe in the old city of Jerusalem, though I don't think he was really aiming for me. I just happened to pass at the precise wrong moment to intercept his spit. Only after I gave him an EXTREME lifted eyebrow did he half-heartedly apologize.

2. The dust

The dust here in Israel has terminator tendencies and you cannot get rid of it no matter what you do. It NEVER looks as though you have dusted. You can even see the dust piling up as you are dusting. A tourist once told me that he is sure that it is the constant dust that makes the Israeli's so irritable.

You know how in the Bible people are always washing feet or hanging out at the wells…? It is not because they were all like super pedantic about being clean, it is because the dust is so persistent in Israel.

3. Hamsin and sharaf

Standing together with the dust but definitely deserving their own category of things that I dislike in Israel, is the hamsin and the sharaf. These are two types of winds that we have in Israel. And yes, we name our winds. 

The hamsin gets its name from the Arab word for "fifty" because apparently this hot and humid wind blows for fifty days a year. This wind is so badass that it even irons out the Mediterranean sea into a mirror-still lake.

And sharaf literally means "the burn". It is a dry and severely hot wind all the way from the Arabian deserts that sucks up the moisture in your eyeballs in seconds. 

These winds do not just air dry us out like biltong (beef jerky) but also bring the dust! See dislike number 2.

4. No proper representation 

Okay, this dislike is a bit more serious. As soon as you step off a plane in Israel and get a nice welcome blast of heat to acclimatize you to constant sweat-mode, you will notice that 90% of the population is dark-haired and have Eastern or Mediteranean features.

There are blondes and red-heads, usually chemically enhanced, but they are definitely in the minority. And skin colors range from Russian to Ethiopian with a 1001 shades of brown in between. But if you look at the billboards, magazines and TV - shows, you will think that Israel is just another European country. Everyone on the media looks SO white and does not represent at all the majority of people that you see on the street.

5. Expensive 

For a small country that is filled with dust and thorns and surrounded by enemies, life in Israel is quite expensive. The day-to-day living costs here are often much more expensive than in European countries. Some say that it is because there is no competition here in Israel but I think it is 100% greediness.

6. People who do not give up their seat for older people in the train.

This is something I often see on my daily commute. I do not expect younger people to give me their seat, I am not THAT old, but definitely think that they should stand up as soon as they see an elderly person. 

Talking about train seats..don't you agree that it is reasonable to expect a parent with a bunch of small kids (let's say four or more) to make them share seats? I mean their bums are small enough AND there are grown-ups standing in the aisles after a long day of work….

7. Public smokers

This is probably the thing that I hate the most in Israel. I do not think smokers will stop smoking just because it bothers me so much. It would however be considerate to NOT smoke standing at building entrances (even hospitals!) and at bus and train stations. Even when you cough out loud and cover your face, they just stare coldly at you. 

I cannot WAIT for the ban on public smoking to be finally finalized….though I am realistic enough to not hold my breath yet. Only when I enter and exit a building with inconsiderate smokers puffing away in my face.

8. New immigrants who think they are special.

A new immigrant once told me quite seriously "I made aliyah" and then looked expectantly at me for confirmative approval. (Aliyah is the word used by a Jew immigrating to Israel and means something like "moving upwards"). 

I wish that I could have given a typical Israeli response such as "BIG mistake!" but I just smiled a small "whatever" smile. 

Maybe these people are somewhere getting the impression that everyone in Israel is waiting with bated breaths for them? Jews have been returning to Israel since before there was even a state. The fact that a bunch of latecomers finally straggled in, is not news for the rest of us living here.

9. Seed shell droppers

Israelis are actually quite healthy eaters and love to snack on fruit, nuts and seeds. It is not strange to see people eating from a packet of pumpkin, watermelon or sunflowers seeds as they are watching a football game. Or taking the kids to the park, chilling on the beach or walking just around the 'hood. 

The problem is what they are doing with the shells of the seeds that they expertly remove. Some people spit them out (ewww!) but most Israelis just let the seed shells fall where they are. It is not unusual to sit somewhere on a bench and to see the floor covered with old seed shells.

10. Disposable plastics

Israel is number two in the world for per-capita use of disposable plastic dishes and utensils.

This is astounding when you keep in mind that the entire population of Israel is only something like 8 million people. 

Instead of using dishes made from glass or porcelain, many Israelis (waaaay to many) will just use plastic tableware and utensils in their homes. At the end of the meal everything will be rolled up tidily in the plastic tablecloth and then thrown away. This includes the disposable aluminium dishes used to cook the food in.

Sadly, too many of these plastics make their way to the beaches, fields, street corners and picnic spots. 

The people living in the holy land at this moment in time do not seem to care about looking after the land for future generations. As long as they do not have to wash the dishes right now.
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