25. Crazy Israeli Guys

Every country has good and bad citizens. One can only hope that the citizens traveling the world and representing one’s nationality are good ones, people who build a solid reputation for their country. Unfortunately for Israel, a disproportionate number of young, male Israeli backpackers are crazy and thus contribute to a poor international image for their countrymen.


Just as with my post about Aussie Guys, I initially called this one “Crazy Israelis,” only to change it because it’s really only the males that annoy me. Most female Israelis I’ve met on the backpacking circuit are nice, not to mention, attractive. Their being attractive might be why their male counterparts are prone to peacocking and giving non-Israeli backpackers the stinkeye whenever all three parties meet.

I’m accustomed to foreign guys being protective of their women. That’s normal. This post is not about that alone. I’ve met Israeli guys that display a sociopathic disregard for public decency, a desire to make other travelers feel uncomfortable or even afraid, and an enjoyment of mocking other people and cultures.

I think a lot of their wild behavior is a result of conscription. “The backpacking trip (is) a common custom, nearly normative, among Israeli youth in the period soon after the military service,” wrote Chaim Noy and Erik Cohen, in their book,  Israeli Backpackers and Their Society: A View from Afar.

The direct transition from soldier to traveler implies that many such backpackers may still be shellshocked. Noy and Cohen note that the “massive participation in backpacking expresses the demobilized soldiers’ need to ‘relax’ and ‘unwind’ following the intense years spent in the army.” I would concur, if interpretations of relaxing and unwinding include: being a cocky prick, acting recklessly or even dangerously (see photo below), reacting aggressively to the mildest opposition, yelling and rambunctious diplays while drinking, and general insanity.


Darya Maoz, who teaches a class at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University called Sociological and Anthropological Aspects of Tourism and Backpacking, described stereotypes of Israeli backpackers in  Outside magazine (Aug. 2005):  “They tend to be rude, to curse the locals, to ruin things if they are not satisfied… they don’t respect local people, they party all night, they take a lot of drugs, and if people say something, some Israelis call them Nazis.”

Crazy Israeli guys are guilty of many of the same offenses as the typical Aussie guy, colored with whatever inclinations a few months of patrolling the West Bank can bring.

It’s a funny comparison when considering a letter written in 2006 on www.ynetnews.com by Nicola Lipman, a Jewish-Australian backpacker:  A message to my ugly brother. Lipman acknowledges the negative stereotypes perpetuated by Israeli travelers: “I realzied it was the loud, obnoxious type (and not the friendly, funny and interesting type) who were immediately identifiable as Israeli and giving the whole country a bad name.”

And that’s coming from an Australian.

Also in 2006, freelance writer Jeff Koyen wrote a column for www.jewcy.com, entitled The Israeli Asshole, in defense of obnoxious Israeli travelers. In the column, Koyen presents arguments as to why Israeli travelers are generally perceived of as douchebags and why it’s OK for them to continue being douchebags.

“Raised in their own land, speaking their own language, Israelis have freed themselves from the anxious self-monitoring still experienced by the Jews of the Diaspora,” he wrote. “The Jews of Israel have learned to stop apologizing. Early Zionists would have taken great pleasure in knowing this day would arrive. Perhaps we should take some pleasure in it, too.”

Uh, sure. We should all take pleasure in things we consider reprehensible, like child pornography and female circumcision. After all, the perpetrators have learned to be unrepentant about their cause. Good for them! Let’s celebrate their offenses as justifiable acts of self-preservation. Koyen has clearly lost his mind as well.

Atop Koyen’s column is a photo of a sign, from Bella Bella Guesthouse in the Khao San Road district of Bangkok, saying that it does not accept Israelis because of problems it has had with them in the past. Coincidentally, I took a picture of the same type of sign when I stayed at Bella Bella in 2007, but this one had a damning newspaper article attached to it:


Few bad reviews can compare with a simple refusal of service. It’s pretty crazy, really.

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27 Responses to “25. Crazy Israeli Guys”

  1. Liam says:

    LOL, you said ‘stink-eye’.

  2. Gillian says:


  3. Juan Pablo says:

    Excellent article, I couldn`t agree more!
    I have some really bad experiences with Isrraelis, the ban they have on certain cities (Puskar the time I was there, India) was the perfect example.
    I dont have anything against them, so I hope they start realizing that nobody is attacking them.
    I think they realy don`t get the backpacking way of life jajaj

  4. i.s. says:

    I really don’t know what to think of you more – racist or just stupid..

  5. c.a. says:

    I think that the actitude depends on the person. i have met a lot of israeli guys, and they are really good and kind peopl, it´s truth that they are rude in their manners but they are good people, do not agree with you.

  6. Alex says:

    I think it really depends who you meet. In my travels I met British people that I consider much more rude then Israelis and changed my views about the British in a negative way.

  7. Vica says:

    unlike the writer, i’ve met a lot of vile israeli women backpackers. out of 6 months, i’ve only met 2 normal israeli backpackers, 1 male & 1 female. the rest are rude, obnoxious, self-entitled morons.
    it’s so annoying that everytime someone critizes an israeli, he/she would be labeled racist or antisemitic. get a grip & get that massive chip off your shoulders. learn to differentiate jews & israelis, will ya? schmucks. there’s a reason why the sign said no israel instead of no jew. stop hiding behind this nazi bullshit & see what’s in the mirror. all these kids out of military should go to charm school first before they travel.
    & yeah, jeff koye is delusional. if he takes pleasure in the company of ogres, then so be it…but don’t expect us to follow suit.

  8. Liora says:

    Yeah, I hate to admit it but even in Israel we’re aware that we’re among the most obnoxious travelers in the world (sitcoms have even been made about it). Not that that helps because the really rude ones don’t realize that they’re the problem…
    What Koyen wrote is only partly true, the truth is that those same early Zionists did enjoy the idea of raising a new “care free” generation (as opposed to their own), barely gave their own kids any dicipline and this is the result… :-\

  9. nicola granger says:

    I hate to say it but Israeli tourists do come across as a bit racist. They seem to think the local pople by dint of being perhap poorer are beneath their contempt. When you hear the way they talk to them you cringe really. Have a little more respect and you get a little more respect!

  10. robert says:

    Israelis are obnoxious, it’s true, but you’re giving them a bit too much credit. they’ll never be able to compete with the British about this.

  11. *yonatan-israeli* says:

    This Article is genious,and should be published here in israel,
    In general it is true,i truely think it depends on who you meet,
    As any other nation-as said-there are all kinds of people,
    Douchebags can be found anywhere on the plant,
    It is SO SO true that israelis should take a *charm school* before traveling,and that is something i might offer to a lot of my friends,
    I’m going to have to interject on a few things tho-the first one is the racisem,i dont think my friends who went traveling there are racist by any means,no they’re not-suspicious though.
    Whoever wrote this article,wrote is incredibly,sometimes we need that outside view-in order to “face with reality as is in the mirror”
    and it is true-and yet,once again to remember,most of my personal friends who went there,are charming people,who would easly merg any forgien community,and could be easily entitled as “aussies,british,german” or whatever.

    to conclude,it made me laugh with a bitter smile reading this,and again-dont judge the whole based on a small piece.

    Lot’s of Joy to ya’ll.

    Yonatan (:

  12. Matey says:

    Ha! The best thing is that if you challenge them they start to call you a bigot. Many of them are just kids who dont know how to behave and have little to no respect for others. In one word: ‘Wankers’

  13. los says:

    I was travelling in Brazil and on the night bus were israelis who drank and played the guitar and sang loudly while others were trying to sleep. I asked them to be considerate and they started to make fun of me in spanish thinking I didn’t understand. I did and answered them back. In the morning we got off the bus and they came and asked me which way a certain place was. I said no problem and directed them to the favella.

  14. brian says:

    I have only met good Israeli travelers, men and women. And the women can be pretty crazy too, but in a mostly good way, very attractive too. Now some brits or eastern european people I have met traveling have been pretty out of control, however the worst group I have seen around the world is aussie women by far. Rude, selfish, bitchy, stand offish. I have more negative experiences with them then corrupt 3rd world cops. Let me say here that I have of course met many awesome aussies, even aussie women, but the ones my age that are there to party always seem to be horrible people.

  15. Much Traveled says:

    Jews are just obnoxious…whether Israelis or not. they should just stay the f… in Occupied Palestine.

  16. eylon says:

    I’m Israeli, served in the army and I travelled in central america an India. I met alot of Israeli idiots who give us a bad name, and also alot of meture Israelis who are just have a different culture and this is why they dont socialies, and you will have to respect that. In a way we are more meture, I commaned 200 soldiers when i was 23, but on the other way, we are like 18, childish, selfcentred. be the greater person, try to be friendly and learn them, ask about the army, be the adult. also yu need to understand that EVERYBODY travells, you get to meet also people who are not really bagpackers like you. in Europe or the US most people dont travell, I am sure that if everybody there will travell we will get to see all kinds of people, many of them not really with manners. I agree with alot that was writen above. give us a chance even if many of us seem not very nice- we have a thick shell…. but we are good people (most of us)- warm and trustworthy!!

    and Much traveled, you are a loser. this is our land and we are not planning to leave anytime soon….

  17. R says:

    I love it when they call people “racist” or “anti-semite” when they are criticized for their bad behavior.

    Why? Because then people wake the up to how they are manipulated with those empty and nonsensical accusations that are just used to cover up Israeli’s not caring about others.

    Its like a nation of children that shout “doo doo head” when they are caught doing something wrong. Or a petulant criminal that got caught and is now calling the cop that caught them a “pig”. It just makes it worse for them because people stop listening to their childish whining and accusations, that otherwise might retain their power.

    Once those accusations lose their power, because people realize that its BS, then those accusations lose their political power.

    Adults empathize with the perspective of other and talk, or at least offer reasonable explanations when criticized. The Zionist who does this is about 1 in 50. See the poster above me, while more reasonable then most, calls someone a “loser” in response to being criticized for being in Palestine. Typical, and you sway no one and even lose support. I can;t believe a nation of supposedly smart people uses name calling as their de facto defense to their actions. That is true loser behavior.

    Also, believing that they are exceptional because they are Israeli, and that gives them an excuse to act badly, is the actual narcissistic racism being perpetuated.

  18. honza says:

    Unfortunately I have exacly the same experience. Most of them don´t even reply for greating. In Chile many local people hate them for they behavior.
    In less stable countries like Peru I have not met many of them out of the main tourist spots. I guess that there they could not behave the way they do in friendly Argentina or Chile because the locals would not tolerate that.

  19. Livingistravelling says:

    I totally agree. Israelis are some of the most xenophobic, chauvinistic. rude and very unpleasant people. I know, that if I was speaking to an israeli person, he would automatically bring the anti-semitic and nazi card on the table. GET OVER IT! stop living in the past and realize that just because one doesnt like israelis, doesnt mean that he doesnt like jews.

    I have nothing against jews – as a people or as a religion, but I have something against the state of Israel and its brainwashed inhabitants.
    Not only have you taken another peoples land, expelled them and done to them what was done to you (I presume most if not all israelis are jews) during ww2, but you are also so arrogant to expect people to feel sorry for you, due to your past, AND to threat you better and totally ignore your rude and arrogant attitude – I hope to god, that I never have to share a dorm room with another israeli ever again!

    Free Palestine!
    Peace out.

  20. johana says:

    I must say I cant agree.. Ive made somre rel good friends travelling india.. many of them were israelis..and as one israely girl explained me:

  21. johana says:

    she said… there are different groups of travelers in israel…the after army…the students ..the 30 plus…and the rest… the after army groups …is bigger then others and even when 10 % are noisy and rude…you are bound to meet them somewhere…meanwhile the majority of people are kind a warm but you may never know they are israeils.. or will be in same guesthouse with you.. but how can you tell…

  22. Bhavna says:

    Seems to be a pattern here every 20 to 40 years the Arabs (Lebanese and Egyptians moltsy), after getting their asses kicked, rebuild their lives and also build up their hatred to the point where all rationality is forgotten, all instinct to protect their own safety and that of their families, homes and businesses becomes unimportant. Then they begin the cycle again. Like rabid dogs they rail at the gates in their bloodlust. Reminds me of Hezballah displays from a couple of years ago, whole crowds literally bouncing off walls and gates, mouths foaming in an ecstacy of mindless hatred. Poor Israel, having to put up with these barbarians in this way endlessly.

  23. I have travelled a lot all over the world and met many Israelis. I was always the older one with more experience and somehow respected. I do agree with most comments – Israelis are very often unpleasant backpackers but one should not generalize. I met many Israelis whether in Asia or Latin-America who succeeded in understanding the local culture and even living with local people. There are sociological reasons for the bad behaviour of the young Israelis (I am not justifying, only explaining). They go to the army straight after school and serve 2 or 3 years in the army – so their backpacking is their first “feeling of freedom” – so many youngsters travel so that there is a social pressure and even people who are not interested go on these trips and behave accordingly – not like other youth who could work and save money after school they travel with a limited budget , another reason for their behaviour – many of them served in the occupied territories and think that they can behave the way they behaved there….. – and other reasons connected with Israli mentality. On the other hand you will experience that their are willing to help if you need it and will not show you indifference that you may experience with travellers from other countries. We should find a way in Israel to prepare them for their experience and make them understand how one travels around the world and understand and accepts other cultures!

  24. Jonze says:

    Some really insightful, intelligent dialogue. I’m impressed. Reading all of this will actually prepare me for the sociological experiment of encountering certain Israeli people of the Boot Camp culture. Thanks!

  25. Doug says:

    Found this page while googling for \\”Israeli travellers.\\” Although it\\’s nice to read some confirmation of a perceived phenomenon, when said phenomenon comes home drunk at 4am stomping around in a HOMESTAY (read: NOT a party hostel. The owners actually live here), that phenomenon needs to curl up and die already.It\\’s amazing. The first few times some tour operator or hostel owner asked us straight to our face if we were Israeli, we were shocked. And, honestly, it\\’s still a little shocking when we\\’ve met really quite a few kind, interesting, and genuine backpackers from Israel… but the ones that really stick out are the ones that wake you up in the middle of the night, the ones yelling harshly at locals over a certain price, and the large traveling groups that never pause to say even so much as a \\’hi\\’, much less a word not in Hebrew.In Chile, in particular, it seems like well over half of tourists are from Israel (one hostel owner even guessed at 75%!!?!). How does that even happen? Anyway, we\\’ve thankfully encountered a total of zero Aussie surfer-brahs in South America, so I guess there\\’s that to be thankful for. And I guess it\\’s a sign of high travel value if the biggest problem is with other travellers. But still… SHUT UP ALREADY AND GO TO BED (OR A PARTY HOSTEL)!!! (my semi-asleep girlfriend last night: \\”it\\’s not like I hate the country.. Or it\\’s people.. I just hate the people in the country!\\”)Ps- a few year\\’s late, but I love the blog. Great stuff.

  26. jkay says:

    Practically every male Israeli I\’ve ever met has been a self entitled, racist, rude, self obsessed, vain, egotistical, arrogant, loud mouthed asshole prone to violence or threats of violenceObnoxious to the core and boastful with itThey obviously take this \’Gods chosen people\’ bullshit completely to heartWhat a bunch of jerks !!

  27. Ignatz says:

    Jeff Koyen = fucking idiot. After 30 years of international travel, I concur with your assessment as to the behavior of Israeli males. It’s almost as if the Israeli government creates psychopaths through mandatory service in the Palestinian Territories, and then unleashes them upon the world to work out said psychopathology, and/or to have the shit beaten out of them – assuming they don’t beat you first. I’ve also been disturbed by the number of Israeli arms dealers and military advisors for hire I’ve met in remote places – notably in Central America where they were selling tons of Israeli – produced military equipment to repressive governments. And you can imagine that these guys are like the average Israeli male traveler except on steroids.

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