On not being Irish

There’s an interesting (and to me, inexplicable) phenomena that often occurs when the aspect of my Scottish heritage comes up in discussion with Israelis. For example, after establishing that I am from that northern part of the United Kingdom, the Israeli may say something like “Is that the same as Ireland?” or “Is that near Belfast? Dublin?” In short, they do not have a clue about UK geography. Fair enough, my Israeli geography is not that hot. However, there is a second part to the phenomena.

At the end of most of these conversations, we have established that Scotland is not Ireland, Glasgow is neither Belfast nor Dublin, and every place in the world is where it should be, But, should I later meet the same person, the odds are strongly in favor of an opening remark like “You’re from Ireland, aren’t you?” Aaaaaaaargh!

A variation to the phenomena is that, on hearing my accent, before being told I am Scottish by birth, Israelis often guess that I am from Ireland. (Other guesses have included Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa, so you can tell there’s still a lot of work to do in educating people about Scotland, the Scottish people, and their accents.) ¬†They are perplexed when I assure them that I am not Irish. It’s almost as if they want me to be Irish.

Finally, and this may be a sign of progress, it’s a long, long time since any Israeli referred to my birthplace as “England.” Something to celebrate there, for sure!

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