Inside the Israeli Psyche: 7 Hebrew Sayings That Say It All
Understanding the core elements of how Israelis think and behave — from Israelis themselves.
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A good many authors, pundits, scholars, and even psychologists have tried to identify the factors which account for the outstanding and unique attributes of Jews — and particularly Israelis.
In the book, Genius and Anxiety, distinguished British writer Norman Lebrecht attempted to solve this mystery by examining Jewish lives across nearly two centuries. He discovered certain common characteristics, but wasn’t able to identify a magic ingredient.
In her book, Chutzpah, Inbal Arieli ascribed Israel’s success as an epicenter of technology innovation to that well-known Israeli characteristic.
Nili Peretz, another sabra author, calls it “Positive Chutzpah” — a mindset that transcends the boundaries of culture and gender, providing a trigger for innovation that pushes many Israelis to discover their extraordinary potential and positively impact the world.
Resilience is another word you often hear when describing Israelis — so much that it served as the impetus for another book titled ISResilience, which highlights stories of 14 remarkable Israelis who have suffered misfortune of one kind or another, yet demonstrated the ability to overcome their adverse circumstances.
In 2003, Donna Rosenthal published her book, The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land, which paints a picture of how Israelis — “who order Big Macs in the language of the Ten Commandments” — look at themselves.
Similar to Donna’s approach, the more compelling path to understanding the Israeli psyche is from Israelis themselves — by identifying and analyzing their sayings, expressions, and catchphrases.
Here are seven of them, each portraying a different nuance of the complexities that are Israeli culture, society, and history: