Things *NOT* to do if you want to seem Israeli

Here's a list of things I've noticed Americans doing that they (ok, we) tend to think makes us look Israeli... but that actually make us look like fresh-off-the-Nefesh-b-Nefesh-flight olim, or worse: here-for-a-year-on-a-gap-year-program Americans.

Disclaimer: these are great things to do if you want to seem Israeli when you're in America. Just not in Israel.

1. Wear wrap-around pants. 

 Yes, these pants are comfy, cool and only cost about 15 shekels in the shuk. But unless you're either A) cleaning your house with bleach on a Friday morning or B) Idan Raichel, don't wear these pants in Israel anytime someone else can see you.

2. Call the New Israeli Shekel a "shek." 

This seems to be slang popular among the Jerusalem English-speaking crowd, but I've never heard it from Israelis. The formal term for the shekel is "shach," short for "shekel chadash," which could be the source of this bit of Anglo slang, but "shach" is only used by newscaster-types. Say it with me, folks: they're called are sh'kalim.

2. Wear tzahal clothing when you aren't in the army.

Yes, I'll admit that I went on Birthright when I was 18 and bought the requisite army shirt. (Hey, it matches my eyes!) But in Israel, wearing army clothing means you're actually serving in the army. In fact, Israelis get so sick of wearing army clothes while they actually serve in the army that you would be hard-pressed to find any olive green in an Israeli wardrobe. So save that tzahal shirt as a gift for your friends back in the US.  In fact, wearing basically any shirt with Hebrew writing on it, in Israel, is a decent indication that you aren't Israeli (unless that shirt has a cut-out neck and says "madrich"-- counselor-- on it somewhere).

4. Wear a kippa when you aren't orthodox.

My parents are very active members of a reform congregation in the US, but dress my ex-hippie dad up in the right clothing and he could pass as a chasid. I have literally never seen his chin. When they came to visit me in Israel last year, my dad decided to celebrate being in the Jewish state by wearing a kippa (yarmulke) all the time. Problem is, like a tzahal uniform, a kippa has a specific meaning in Israel. At the very least, it means that you are either on your way to a synagogue or shomer shabbat and shomer kashrut, so for my dad to wear a kippa while touring the country on shabbat... confusing.

5. Say "shalom!" to strangers.

My husband and I were recently in a national park when a couple walked past us, smiled brightly, and said "shalom aleichem!" We were not at all surprised when they turned out to be German Christian tourists... we would have been shocked had they turned out to be native-born Israelis.  On the other hand, feel free to strike up a conversation with any shop owner, bus driver, or waiter that you see, and say "shabbat shalom" anytime to say goodbye to any Israeli you meet any time past Thursday morning. By Israeli standards, anyone you actually interact with for more than 30 seconds is no longer a stranger, so it's fine to greet them/share your life story.

6. Be loud, angry and combative.

"What??" you're saying. "Israelis are loud, angry and combative!" But here's the thing: Israelis are loud and combative, but they aren't usually angry. To Israelis, being loud and combative is all part of normal social interaction, and it's usually followed up with "shabbat shalom" and "tell Moshe I say hi." When Americans are loud and combative, on the other hand, we get angry, and we tend to leave in a huff with red faces and resolutions to never buy sandals in Israel again. As I said in another post, Americans are ruder (by Israeli standards) than we realize. If you want to seem Israeli, a better bet is to attempt to connect personally with whoever you meet. Being loud and combative is a higher level of Israeli-ness that we usually can't pull off.

I feel like there's more I should add to this list. Have you ever seen people on the street and just KNOWN they're not native Israelis? How did you know?

Then again, we American olim ALWAYS seem Israeli in America and American in Israel, so maybe we should just embrace it...


Israeli Famous People who look like American Famous People

I bet this has something to do with the Mosad.

If you watch Israeli TV for long enough, everyone starts to look familiar. We seem to have only about 15 actors, who get cast in every series, game show, or what have you. The same politicians trade minister slots in the government... over and over and over again. However, some of these figures look familiar not because I've seen them before, but because I've seen their American doppelgangers. Take a look:

1.  Israeli news anchor Yanun Magal (pronunciation?) and American president Barack Obama.  It's in the ears, people. And the haircut. And the skin tone. I'd like to see Obama's birth certificate for proof that he doesn't put his teleprompter skills to use on Chadashot Eser.

2. Israeli opposition leader Tsipi Livni and US vice president Joe Biden. As Isreallycool so astutely pointed out, these two looked like long-lost siblings on Biden's awkward trip to Israel. Or maybe there was something in the water.

3. American comedian Steve Carell and Israeli Serious Dramatic Actor Lior Ashkenazi. Seriously, these guys could play twins. My theory is that Steve Carell is secretly fed up with playing the repressed idiot all the time and moonlights in Hebrew in dramatic roles. My husband laughs at me for always calling Lior Ashkenazi "the Israeli Steve Carell"... and then for calling Steve Carell "the American version of the Israeli Steve Carell."

4. Israeli actress Maya Maron and American Comedian Sarah Silverman. Actually, considering they're both Jewish, these two actually could be cousins. From the shoulders up, this is also pretty much exactly what I looked like when I was twelve.

5. Israeli "model and actress" Orit Fox and American "model and actress" Pamela Anderson. Ok, so Orit Fox is actually a terrifying premonition of what Pamela Anderson is going to look like 20 plastic surgeries down the road, but still-- isn't the resemblance kind of striking? I love how they are both attempting to give the same sexyface in the picture above. Or maybe Orit Fox is trying to smile. It's really hard to tell.

6. Israeli "Monit HaKesef" guy Idan Rosenblum and American Australian "Was in a Chick Flick with Jennifer Lopez" guy Alex O'Loughlin. When I was flying back to Israel from the US this summer, I watched "The Back-Up Plan," a really dumb chick flick starring Jennifer Lopez. The whole time I kept staring at the male romantic lead, Alex O'Loughlin, thinking, "Wow, he looks just like the Israeli money cab guy." What? Of course that's why I was staring!

 7. The Israeli "Bachelor" and Nate Berkus, Oprah's design guy.  Among the many reasons why I couldn't take "HaRavak" seriously: Guy Gior, the bachelor himself, is probably the only person in Israel to have Nate Berkus's hair. And face. And taste in clothing. And... 

8. Israeli celebrity chef Aharoni and Mr. Miyagi. Just kidding-- Aharoni doesn't actually look like anyone. Nobody, not even Spock, can match those eyebrows.

9. My scuba instructor and Javier Bardem. Imagine Javier Bardem with George Clooney's hair and Homer Simpson's belly, plus an endless supply of Turkish coffee and cigarettes, and you'd have my Israeli scuba instructor.

Then there's the newscaster who looks exactly like Rupert Everett, and the Spanish/Israeli actress who looks exactly like Andie MacDowell, but I haven't had much luck trying to figure out their actual names in Hebrew.

Have you noticed any Israeli-American dopplegangers?


Wahoo! Problem fixed!

Google no longer sees my site as an attack page... we're up and running again!


P.S. Tip for anyone who faces a similar problem: I ended up finding the bad link by downloading my site and doing a search in the code for the lines that Google had flagged. It turned out to be surprisingly easy. I also ended up deleting my blog-roll in case that was contributing to the problem, so if you want to be re-added, let me know! 


I think I found the problem...

The domain indicated in the warning message was the source of one image in my post about foods difficult to find in Israel. I removed it and resubmitted my post for review. Thanks for the help!


Any tips on how my site can be removed as an "attack" site?

Hi everyone! I really do want to get back into blogging. In fact, I've been tossing around a lot of fun ideas. (Two posts I want to write soon: Things Americans Do That They Think Makes Them Look Israeli But Really Makes Them Look American and its sister post, Things Israelis Do That They Think Makes Them Look American But Really Makes Them Look Israeli. Just, um, maybe I have to work on snappier titles.) Problem is, I can't actually view my blog. When I try to open it in Mozilla Firefox, I get a message that it's been reported as an attack page, and these are the details I get when I click on more info (I'm cutting out the links to the attacking page in case that sets off more alarms):

What is the current listing status for howtobeisraeli.blogspot.com?
Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.
Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 1 time(s) over the past 90 days.
What happened when Google visited this site?
Of the 6 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 1 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2010-09-23, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2010-09-20.Malicious software is hosted on 1 domain(s), including ****
1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including *****
This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including *****
Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
Over the past 90 days, howtobeisraeli.blogspot.com did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.
Has this site hosted malware?
No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.
How did this happen?
In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.
Next steps:
Updated 4 hours ago
I AM the owner of this website, but I can't for the life of me figure out how I'm supposed to use Google Webmaster Tools to solve this problem. I gather that some people can still view my page, so if you're one of them, please help-- and don't click on any links posted in the comments, just in case.

I'm going to turn on comment moderation so that I can actually see your comments-- I can't open up my blog itself at all.

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