My point of view
People are different everywhere you go and in this post, I will attempt to describe my perception on the mentality in Israel. I think it’s important to give you some background on my point of view before diving into the mentality of the Israel. I am a 30-year-old American from a small town in Pennsylvania. I lived in Israel for 6 months in 2016 while working to establish a remote office for a business in the high-tech mobile advertising industry.
Happy to help
In Israel, you will find some of the warmest people in the world. There is a certain feeling of brotherhood amongst the people. You can feel comfortable stopping and asking almost anyone for help, whether it be asking for directions in the street, recommendations on where to eat, or even for help watching your stuff at the beach while you swim. Everyone is happy to help and you also should not be surprised if others ask you for assistance. I was shocked when my friend and I were approached once by a beautiful girl in a parking lot who requested that we allow her to ride on the back of our electric bikes to the beach.
Hard workers, innovators and problem solvers
The people there are hard workers, innovators, and problem solvers. For this very reason, many of the world’s largest high tech companies have teams based in Israel. Many of these teams are doing R&D work because if you tell an Israeli something can’t be done, he will figure out a way to do it.
Expect extremely direct communication
Two things that I think we can all learn from the Israeli mentality are how to ask for what we want and how to say no. Israeli’s are very direct and expect you to be the same. For example, when you pay for your meal at a restaurant your server will say “How much would you like to leave for a tip?”. If the service was good you will tell them that you would like to tip 15%, if it bad then you should tell them you are tipping 10%. Either way it’s expected that you talk about it.
Don’t be a Fryer
Fryer is the Hebrew word for sucker. Israeli’s are optimizers and because of this you must make sure that you are not taken advantage of. Just because they are warm loving people doesn’t mean they aren’t looking out for themselves first. The bad news is that if you get marked as a fryer you will see yourself being taken advantage of again and again. For example, if someone cuts in-front of you in a line at a café if you don’t say something I wouldn’t be surprised if 1-2 other people decide it’s just easier to cut in front of you. Stand up for yourself and don’t be a sucker.
No respect for personal space
In Israel, there also is not a lot of respect for personal space. There is a saying that if you stand still long enough in Tel Aviv someone will eventually run into you! If there is already 5 people in a very small lift, one more person will insist on squeezing in even if it causes everyone minor discomfort.
Don’t be a kusit!
Israeli’s are tough and nearly everyone has served in the military, including the women. Don’t expect to hear a lot of complaining and never underestimate the women. I will never forget when I lived in Israel while looking at office space in a high-end building I met a woman in an elevator. I introduced myself and shook her hand. She responded “You shake hands like a kusit!”. (Kusit is the Hebrew word for female genitals.) She was upset because I did not shake her hand the same way I would a man.
Everything is negotiable
Finally, you should know that everything in Israel is negotiable. No one is ever going to offer you the best price or situation right off from the start. I am not even joking when I say I have seen someone negotiate their bill at the Apple Store!
I love the people of Israel and the mentality that they carry. I think most of all I like the comradery that exists between the people and I think we could all learn from it. Secondly I think the directness makes communication much easier. You always know exactly where you stand and you’re a never left guessing.
Do you live in Israel or have you visited before? What do you think of the mentality? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.