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Mauro in Israel Day 10: Random Observations About Israel

Posted on August 12 2010 9:00 am
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Thank you to Stand With Us’ Once in a Lifetime project for making this trip possible!

Yesterday was a more relaxed day. We had a lot of free time, some of which I used to briefly talk with Noam Shalit, the father of the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas who is still held today. His parents and supporters have set up tents outside the home of Prime Minister Netanyahu to pressure the Israeli government into getting their son back, where they live every day. In my brief conversation with Noam, you could feel the despair and helplessness he didn’t voice but anyone could clearly sense. I’m not sure what the Israeli government can realistically do short of a military offensive, but no one can blame Shalit’s family for trying to do something to get their son back. Heart-wrenching.

We also went on a tour of a lookout point in Jerusalem to view the Old City while riding segways. And I, of course, was the only one to almost smash my head on the ground. I was having a great time and got a bit overconfident, certain that the speed would get me over a little bump. Let me tell you, segways are cool, but they hurt when they hit something and slam into your leg as you nearly fall off. And yes, to those commenting and emailing me, this did happen in front of the beauties that have kept me company for the past week and a half.

We finished the night by going to Machneyuda, the top restaurant in Jerusalem and went to a bar. And while there, I noticed a few things about Israel that I thought I’d share. First off, their beer is ultra-expensive. I told the Israelis about how easy it is to find $1 beer and $1 shot nights where I live on the Jersey Shore, and you would have thought I parted the Red Sea by the look on their faces. In Israel, the cheapest beer is about $6—a little less than the cost of a good night out for a lightweight like myself.

The other thing I noticed is how much Israelis travel to exotic places like Thailand, Brazil and India. When they finish military service, almost every single one goes on a big trip. These people constantly travel—a big break from the bubble we Americans often house ourselves in.

Culturally, the Israelis are very similar to Americans, with English music blasting at bars (including a very disappointing but surprising remix of Black Hole Sun) and their sarcastic sense of humor. But, not everything we Americans do catches on everywhere, particularly derogatory terms like “slut” and “whore” that we often use in a joking manner towards female friends. Nor has frat boy-like vocal expressions of excitement over drinking (“we’re gonna get wasted, man!”) come to Israel. Also absent is American-style (or maybe I should just say Jersey Shore-style) sexually-charged close “dancing,” which was very refreshing to experience. These differences fascinate me simply because Israel has so much American culture, both the good and the bad aspects, and I’m interested in figuring out why things have caught on and others haven’t.

Now it’s in the morning and time to prepare for a visit to Israel’s Holocaust museum and prepare to leave and say bye to the other bloggers and the fantastic Israeli students that put this together. To say it’s going to suck would be a major understatement. But like I said last year when I came, I have to return.

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