Loud and Clear: What Israelis and Americans Talk About in Public Places

Haim Watzman

While we’re on the subject of Israeli-American behavioral stereotypes as parsed on the New York Times op-ed page, what about David Brooks’ “A Loud and Promised Land”, of April 16? (Brooks was discourteous enough to publish this the day after Pesach, when we were all exhausted from lugging boxes of dishes down to the storeroom—who could write then?)

Brooks has some witty things to say about the volume and nosiness of quotidian Israeli discourse:

One Israeli acquaintance recounts the time he was depositing money into his savings account and everybody else behind him in line got into an argument about whether he should really be putting his money somewhere else. Another friend tells of the time he called directory assistance to get a phone number for a restaurant. The operator responded, “You don’t want to eat there,” and proceeded to give him the numbers of some other restaurants she thought were better.

Wasn’t it an Israeli Jew who wrote the homily about the mote in one’s eye? My wife, a native Israeli, never ceases to be amazed at how loud and indiscreet Americans can be in public places.

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