A Dog Walk Through Israel

Spread the love

The other day I was walking my dog. To say I was minding my own business would be an understatement. I wasn’t looking to socialize. I was 100% in my own world. Probably leaving a message for a friend on my phone. Or reading the news. Or doing Duolingo. Certainly not interested in a confrontation of any kind.

But alas, I live in a world with other people. And our interests don’t always match up.

Some older Israeli man was also walking his dog, and appeared to be waiting for me at the end of a street. At first I just assumed he was hoping the dogs would play with one another, but the Gods of Awkward Interactions had different plans for me that fine day.

My Uncomfortable Dog Walk Confrontation


With intention and seriousness he said to me, “Listen, I often see your dog wandering around our neighborhood off leash.”


We were off to a fine start.

I stopped the man before he could continue his soliloquy. “That’s not my dog.”

He looked at me like I was a piece of lying trash and said, “It is your dog. Now…”

But I did not let him continue. I just said, “It’s probably a dog that looks like mine. There are a lot of dogs.” And I proceeded to attempt to walk away.

He actually said, “No, it’s this dog.”

I rolled my eyes (not common for me), and said somewhat exacerbated, “I don’t live in this neighborhood. And I don’t let my dog just wander around.”

He pressed, “Listen, you need to pay attention.”

He tried to say more and I just said, “Actually, in fact, I do not.”

And he took his pooch, and angrily trotted away from me.

The Privilege of Speaking


I walked away irritated. Somewhat amused. But mostly irritated.

But like anything else in life, I had some takeaways, a couple of which I’d like to speak about today.

First, people living in Israel like to mock Americans for their privilege. And to some extent, I get it. I don’t agree, but I get it.

Just about every week I’ll see a post on Facebook that sounds something like this:

I absolutely love Double Stuf Oreos, but I’ve looked in every grocery store I can think of, and I simply can’t find them. Does anyone have any leads? Do you know where I can find my magical treat I miss so much?

Inevitably there will be a slew of unhelpful responses. People will suggest specific stores. Not out of knowledge, but out of speculation. Some will suggest another product they think is equally good, but most certainly is not. Some might even try and sell you their cookies from their new homemade cookie business!

Get Out!


But the responses that drive me the craziest sound something like this:

If you wanted American cookies, you should have stayed in America. This is Israel. We don’t have the same products. Either get used to it, or get out.

This response brings useless to another level.

People don’t need a demeaning speech. There are two acceptable responses to a question like this: A name of a particular location that sells this specific type of cookie. Or silence. That’s it. Nothing else is helpful.

And your self-righteous speech about where a person should live is obnoxious, useless, lacks empathy and nuance, and is not based on psychology. People get used to things. Why shouldn’t someone crave access to the cookie they’ve learned to love?

But instead, they make it out about American privilege. As if all Americans living here are obsessed with turning Israel into the USA. We did it right where we came from, and expect the world to bow to our expectations and preferences.

And thus we need to be put into our place at every turn.

Israeli Privilege


But what I saw with this pushy dog owner was Israeli privilege. You think I feel entitled to get my American products and customer service everywhere I visit in the world. And you also think what you have to say matters and others are required to listen to your asinine babble. And in many ways, we’re both wrong.

But don’t accuse me of being the one who feels entitled when you think I am required to hear you criticize me for something completely irrelevant to me. I don’t. That is not a right you have. It is not something I’m obligated to subject myself to, no matter how much you think it is.

But I think there is another point here far more important.

I was very rude to this fella. I was dismissive. I rolled my eyes. I wouldn’t let him say his piece.

This is not how I behave regularly. I try my hardest to give the benefit of the doubt, and unless someone almost runs me over in a crosswalk, I am gentle and kind with the people in my life.

It doesn’t always work out in Israel.

The Right to be Rude


Patience is a virtue. Kill ’em with kindness. Kindness is contagious. All of these great concepts that often work like a charm elsewhere can end up getting you labeled as a friar here in Israel. And instead of getting what you want and need from the world, you will get walked all over.

Nevertheless, I find it important to try and balance things. I want to balance my yearning to get what I want and need out of this world, with my natural tendency to be a decent human being.

But sometimes my good will reaches an instantaneous border.

My first response to this gentleman was patient. I was pleasant. I gently explained the irrelevance of his line of questioning, and he should have said, “Ah, my mistake.” And moved on with his day.

But there is no one in the world who has earned the right to dominate my time in the street with irrelevant criticism. To force me to listen to his speech about what I am allowed and not allowed to do, a speech designed to critique someone else entirely.

There is no one in the world who has earned the right to dominate my time in the street with irrelevant criticism. Share on X

So I shut it down.

That was my right. I had the right to be rude. I had the right to belittle his sentiment.

I feel no guilt.

And even the smallest sense of pride.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top