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January 06, 1995 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-01-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

`One Of The Noisiest
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No, it's not a screaming match. It's an
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n the words of journalist Amos
Elon: "... predominantly of
Eastern European or 'Orien-
tal' origins, [Israelis] combine
the heartiness of Slays with the
emotionalism and lively bearing
usually associated with people of
the Mediterranean, and make Is-
rael one of the noisiest countries
on earth."
Those words are from the
opening of Mr. Elon's book The
Israelis — Founders and Sons,
written in 1971. Since then, the
country's population has almost
doubled, the number of motor ve-
hicles has quintupled, car alarms
have become de rigueur, and Is-
rael has turned into a regular ca-
cophony.
In an Israeli public opinion poll
last April, "noisy" finished fourth
— tied with "sociable" — as the
adjective best describing the na-
tional personality. (The first three
were "impudent," "rude" and "im-
patient" — each of which goes
well with "noisy.")
In casual conversation, Israelis
are apt to holler. Visitors are
shocked, seeing a fistfight about
to happen, but it's just Israelis
talking. People yell back and
forth between the sidewalk and
the third-floor balcony. Kinder-
garten children already have
raspy, ruined voices from shout-
ing all their short lives.
"When I taught gym in Brook-
lyn, I had 100 kids in a class. But
I never remember thinking, 'Oh,
shut up already,' like I do here
with only 30 kids," said a
Jerusalem junior high and high
school teacher. "Israeli kids are
much louder, but they don't make
noise to bother you. They're just
not aware they're doing it. When

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Two Israelis making a point.

they see I'm getting annoyed,
they apologize."
Certainly the least respected,
least enforced law on the books
is the one that forbids honking
one's horn in traffic except to
avoid an accident. Israeli drivers
honk for sport. The air is filled
with a squall of horns.
One of the country's most pop-
ular TV talk shows, "Popolitica,"
is a weekly free-for-all screaming
match. The Knesset is infamous
for the way members stand up
and roar at one another while
Speaker Shevach Weiss smash-
es his gavel and shouts vainly for
order. Israelis claim to be ap-
palled by the high-volume anar-
chy of "Popolitica" and the
Knesset, but these are just mir-
rors of their own behavior.
"Noise is not considered pollu-
tion here. We assume that it
doesn't bother anybody," said so-
ciology professor Avi Gottlieb of
Tel Aviv University. He is cur-
rently studying the din created
by Israeli high school students.
Noise is not just an Israeli
thing. It's a problem in all
Mediterranean countries, with
outdoor living and the long, agi-
tatingly humid summers, Pro-
fessor Gottlieb said. "Ever been
in Cairo? Israelis are laid back
compared to Egyptians when it
comes to honking horns," he not-
ed.
However, the formative Israeli
experience -- army service — is
a major contributor to the peo-
ple's clamorous ways. Between
tanks, jeeps, planes, rifle ranges
and barking commanders, over 1
percent of Israelis leave the army
with "severe hearing impair-
ment," Professor Gottlieb said.

J

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