I'm Israeli. I travel to the UK about twice a year. I generally try to be polite and pleasant around people, so very often a smiling waitress in a café or an assistant in a shop would ask me where I'm from. It's a safe question, right? Like the weather.

And then I say I'm from Israel. And the smiles drop. And the pleasant service with them. I've had checks handed to me before I asked for them and when I was still considering to order something else. I've had assistants in clothes stores suddenly becoming busy with another customer, or changing with another assistant.

How should I respond to such situations? I mean, refusing someone service because of who they are is the very epitome of racism.

My desired outcome would be waiters, assistants etc. not doing that. Do I confront them, ask something like "Have I done something that upsets you? Why wouldn't you help me any more?" Do I just give up, grin and bear it, the way my ancestors did for generations? Do I have other options available to me?

The one thing I'm not prepared to do is say I'm from somewhere else. I'm proud of where I come from, I will not hide it like I'm ashamed.


1 Answer 1


Answer their question with a question like: Why do you ask? Maybe let them guess where you come from and if they say country x or country y ask them why they think you come from there.

I think many of us have preconceptions about people from other countries, race, etc. The media is often one sided making up the typical German, typical American, etc. That is what people "learn". And lots of news about Israelis shows "them" in not such a good light.

If you have a conversations with people without talking first about your nationality then people have time to make up their mind about you. Do they like you? Do they think you are polite? Do they like your jokes? Or not?

And maybe after a while you tell them that you are Israeli. I guess some people will still go away and I guess there is little you can do to change these people. But there will be other people who had maybe a certain picture in their mind about Israeli people and after they talk to you they think something like: He is a nice guy and he comes from Israel and I learned today that there are nice Israeli people. I guess that is realistically the best you can hope for.

  • 1
    Do you have any evidence for your statement that "lots of news about Israelis shows "them" in not such a good light."? I only hear good news about Israeli's in the news. Like how they protect their citizens against the arabic aggression of, like, every of their neighbouring countries.
    – user2848
    Feb 26, 2018 at 13:00
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    @Geliormth I agree with Edgar. Common opinion here (southern Europe) about Israel revolves around its politics about Palestine. And opinions about it are very negative. Feb 26, 2018 at 13:16
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    @Geliormth yup, here (France) the news is always completely biased and frames it about Israeli aggression against poor harmless Palestine. I would have never ever read or heard about "how they protect their citizens against the arabic aggression" if I didn't use less biased sources on the internet. In fact this phrase would be taboo and would get the journalist fired. Our media is just ridiculous.
    – user2135
    Feb 26, 2018 at 13:32
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    @Geliormth: If you are serious and you never read such stories then maybe you should look at a couple more news sites on the internet to widen your view of what "the world" thinks about Israel. Personally I don't know who is right and who is wrong. I try to keep an open mind. But sometimes it's difficult to keep an open mind if 90% of the stories point in one direction.
    – user8838
    Feb 27, 2018 at 0:05
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    Mainstream media is quite anti-Israel, pro-hamas. I strongly disagree though with the idea that what the mainstream anti-Semitic media presents is "the opinion of the world".
    – user2848
    Feb 28, 2018 at 12:51

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