Israel Stories

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Scientist

Curley snorted, to me and any innocent bystander, a noticeable wave of concern rushed over us as Curley sucked his brains down to the back of his throat and then, to the envy of all terrorists, managed to launch his brains further than any suicide bomber could ever hope for, caught neatly in a handkerchief.

“What was the question again?” He asked, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.

“Being such a controversial figure, what do you think your chances of receiving any recognition for your work in the field of genetics?”

“Well”, he continued, and then another snort and suck as everyone around him ran for cover, “I believe my work to be so revolutionary that the world will have to listen.”

In the UK no one sniffs on television, sweats and shows any discomfort. No one would scratch, itch, pick their nose and absolutely no one would pass wind. But this wasn’t the UK.

Curly snorted again, everyone cringed, than he rubbed his groin and started twisting his chest hair. His shirt was ironed in the Israeli fashion with his collar pressed back out to reveal a perfect ‘V’ from between his collar bone and the center of his chest. The collars were then folded back over his very 70’s looking jacket.

“I am an Israeli scientist”, he continued, “I am proud of my country and its achievements but its time we tried to integrate into the big world, you know blend in a little, then maybe we would be accepted.”

I can just imagine him blending in at the Nobel Prize ceremony. Amongst the Armani and Versace steps H&O man. Blend in, I think not. He reminds me of the charedim who switch there black hats for baseball caps when on holiday in Europe. They blend in like ET at Miss World.

“I recently spoke to my family in Haifa,” he continued “I said to them, keep your head down and don’t worry, I was there in 56, 67 and 73, I kept my head down and prayed I’m here today as a famous scientist on the brink of the greatest genetic discovery this year, so be careful, you never know what will be.”

I laughed but then I could get away with it, I wasn’t in the audience. But I saw people visibly weeping. What he said made a lot of sense to these seasoned Israelis.

I wanted to analyze what he said that set these people off into torrents of tears. Emotions were understandably running high. 1 week into the Hezbollah missile attacks and the North was taking a beating. People all over the country were scared and, with no end in sight, nervous for the future. Together with what he said would have brought a tear to anyone’s eye;

“Protect yourselves and be brave, I understand war first hand, all you can do is stay undercover and pray, I am testimony that the enemy cannot beat us and despite the odds Israel have excelled, we don’t know what will be but there is always hope “

With Israelis you have to read between the lines, see through the bravado, penetrate their masks and understand them.

The Israelis are not very good at blending in and nor should they be. Let them be proud of who they are. I could have watched the scientist’s interview in any other country with the sound turned down and still instantly recognized him as one of us.

Israelis have a style all of their own. Often embarrassing, especially if you’re from the West, but always distinctive.

Our badly dressed, uncouth, arrogant scientist will probably never get the Nobel Prize but I’m proud of him because he’s one of us. Even when he tries to blend in he’ll always be an Israeli.

Pray for our missing soldiers, our injured countrymen and the families of those lost to a heartless, bloodthirsty enemy.


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