Over the past few days the BBC News website has been promoting an April 12th article by Raffi Berg entitled “Getting behind Israeli ‘frankness’ “. The written report is featured on the Middle East page and in the Magazine section. An audio version was broadcast on the BBC World Service in the ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ programme – with the BBC iPlayer synopsis of the programme describing Israelis as “rough and ready“. A reader has informed us that the programme was also broadcast on NPR in the United States.
The subjects of ‘politeness’ and ‘manners’ are, of course, entirely culture dependent – as this perplexed Israeli discovered when a fellow passenger stood on her foot at Manchester’s Victoria railway station and then proceeded to publicly berate her for not responding to his apology with one of her own.
So what do BBC Watch readers think about this item? Does it represent a light-hearted attempt to explain part of the Israeli culture or is it superficial – merely reinforcing and spreading existing stereotypes? Has Berg actually gone any way towards explaining to readers and listeners around the world why Israelis (like most other cultures) may have different perceptions of politeness and manners than the British, or is it in fact an example of cultural colonialism?
Tell us what you think in the comments below.