Americans in Israel seem to have this weird, paradoxical self-hatred for their fellow countrymen.

Last week, I was on the train when a girl sat down opposite me. We made eye contact – which somehow lead both of us to understand that the other is American. Instead of saying hi and being friendly, we went on ignoring each other. 

After a few minutes, she got out her phone and began the loudest phone conversation that I’ve heard. In all honesty, I don’t care what people on the train have to say so I generally just tune them out. But this girl was practically screaming, and in my native language, so I had no choice but to suffer through it.

After her third complaint that “everyone is staring,” she made the astute observation that it was, indeed, because she was yelling…not because she was speaking English (as she speculated from the start). She lowered her voice for about 15 seconds and then forgot. 

I felt myself making an internal eye roll. “Dumb Americans,” I thought. 

Just as I heard this thought go through my head, the girl, in an ironic twist, started recalling her tale of an “annoying American on the bus.” After she finished complaining, she concluded (loudly, of course) that “this is why everyone hates Americans.”

What a strange situation that we are all in. Instead of embracing our commonalities, we tend to find ourselves at odds with one another. Merely hearing the English language being spoken on the street can elicit a sigh and murmur of “tourists." I know that, just as this girl complained about her loud bus companion, and as I recount this story, people have criticized me and my friends. 

Living in a foreign country is hard enough as it is. Attempting to do so, while rejecting the very society and people from which you come, makes it even harder. Hopefully one day, a girl will sit down across from me, we will exchange a smile, and it will not result in a blog post.


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