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Polite Like A Cactus: A Tale Of Manners In Modern Israel

One of the fruits of the Israeli pioneer spirit is scant attention to politeness and proper manners. A French reporter asks why a nation has so little time for formalities.

Israelis' character is the fruit of a rugged life in a kibbutz
Israelis' character is the fruit of a rugged life in a kibbutz
Laurent Zecchini

JERUSALEM – Foreigners tend to view the Israeli conception of politeness as, well….rustic.

It's been 30 years since the French pharmacist Joel Dreyfuss moved to the Holy City after his first 20 years in Strasbourg, in eastern France. He had quite a revealing experience when he was back last summer visiting the French Alsace region, and went out shopping. He found himself demanding something with an "I want…" like a true Israeli, and thus was denied his request by a local shopkeeper. He also got a good lecturing to: "Here Sir we say "hello", "please", "thank you" and "goodbye"". Joel Dreyfuss was stunned: "That's when I realized how rude I had become!"

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Mariateresa Fichele

"Dottoré, I know you’re going to say I’m superstitious and strange, you always give rational answers ... but I have to ask you a question: Is it true that ever since our stadium was renamed after Maradona, Napoli doesn't win at home anymore?"

"So?"

"Could it be that Saint Paul, to whom the stadium was initially dedicated, got offended and is making us lose now?"

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