Tuesday, January 29

The Beauty of the "Ugly Side" of Israelis

This past semester, I took an Introduction to Psychology course.
We learnt about studies that were done in response to some of the worst evils that man has produced - the Holocaust and the murder of Kitty Genovese in front of tens of neighbours.

We learnt about the Milgram experiment - in which decent, sensitive people listened to the authority figure and , as far as the good people knew, administered dangerous electric shocks to "students".

We watched videos of polite, privacy-respecting passersby, who walked within a foot of a staged abduction, and continued to walk by.

The ugly side of Israelis is that we are busybodies and we have no respect for authority.
I am sure that there is a golden mean, but today, when I was among more than ten people who came out of their cars in the pouring rain to help a woman injured in a car accident, and when one of the passersby took advantage of his Mishmar Ezrahi uniform to direct traffic, I was very proud of our stereotypical busybody nature as well as our stereotypical ability to take charge without waiting for orders.   

The famous quote that describes the Holocaust to my mind is "all it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing."
I am glad that the Israeli mindset in general is to Step In, even when you are not asked, and I pray that we never become too "polite" or "disciplined" to interfere.

Postscript - the first person to get to the woman in the car was a hareidi-dressed man, who also used his own mind, ignored "authority", and held the woman's hand in order to help her calm down.

1 comment:

  1. Israelis are real. If the bus driver or postal clerk is getting impatient with you - you will know it. In the US, everyone is pretentious.