Why are Israelis so self-deprecating?

The other day I told an Israeli guy that he didn’t come across as very Israeli. He was so complimented. Especially coming from an expert – you know, a non-Sabra from the dreamy West.

Two days ago another Israeli was saying how Israelis think they’re the worst at everything. The most immoral, rude, dumb. “No, not dumb,” I said. He agreed. Just everything else.

But for the most part, it’s true. When guy number one was happy I didn’t think he was very Israeli, I expressed my concern at his excitement and he calmed me down by pointing out that taking that comment as a compliment was, in itself, very Israeli. Too true!

I know that I am Israeli. How? I question everything about Israel. I look at our beloved country with a critical eye. I “test” Israeli society, culture, morality… I am so Israeli, I ask the most basic questions and I have this guilt about our existence. I’m embarrassed to say this because it’s so messed up, but it’s true. We are so introspective and judgmental of how we do things, and the world is, I guess, even more so, that it’s hard to fight being put down all the time.

I just watched the video below about the Israeli army, the IDF.

I felt guilty the whole time, watching Jews actually be strong and build an army for self-defence. (btw, the music is great in the video until ABBA suddenly enters later in the film.) It’s also a little (a lot) too long – you can just watch a couple of minutes and get the point (well, if there is one… OK, I’m not doing very well at selling this film).

It still makes no sense. Israel is actually probably one of the countries that contributes the most good things to the world. I speak to people all the time who are doing amazing things here to help each other and build a moral, productive, sustainable country.

Our self-deprecation is really messed up and I’m 100% sure there are historical reasons that we have this inferiority complex. What reasons might there be, though?

Some questions we could ask:

  1. Who has the complex? Are there people who don’t? What are the differences between them and those that do?
  2. Is the root of the problem our education system? How and if so, what was the thinking behind the system when it was created?
  3. Why in the world do we feel guilty to exist? Do Americans? Canadians? Anyone else?
  4. And, of course, how can we turn this around?

This last question is vital for our survival. We will be much stronger if we don’t feel the need to question ourselves so incessantly. I think it’s good to be introspective but we are self destructive.


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