Caption: Because of Jesus it is hard for me to get a date in Israel.
My attempt at online dating in Israel got off to a bad start. I mean, Neo-Nazi bad bad.
To set up an OkCupid profile I had to select a username, answer basic questions, describe myself in prose, and post pictures. For the username, I revived my AIM screename, which was balex88—my first initial, last name, and the street address where I grew up.
For pictures, I selected an alluring, but representative sample. Some attractive close ups that highlight my best features through optimal lighting and camera angle, as well as some action shots to demonstrate that I’m fun and adventurous. Look, I’m hiking! And climbing a ladder! And drinking a beer! How fun and adventurous.
Caption: An example of the kind of obnoxious photo that I post on dating websites.
I answered the questions. In response to, “what are you looking for,” I checked everything: friendship, short-term dating, long-term dating, casual sex.
I deliberated on the self-description and went through multiple versions, each one trimmer than the last. In my experience with online dating in the U.S., people really just care about your photos and occupation/education. Other details are superfluous.
Except in Israel your ethnicity and religion are salient information. In most of my conversations with strangers, I’m asked if I’m Jewish by the third sentence.
“Where are you from?”
“Why are you in Israel?”
“Are you Jewish?”
If the stranger is a flirtatious male, the conversation usually ends there—when I say “No I am not Jewish.” I see the interest dissolve from his face and silence descends.
Look dude—I wasn’t trying to marry you and infect your children with non-Jewish heritage! I’m just making small talk in the falafel line. Small talk that you initiated!
Being a Gentile is a common deal breaker here in the dating world. So I felt obliged to mention it on my OkCupid profile. I added a last line: “And by the way I’m not Jewish.”
Profile finished. Bring on the suitors.
A few hours later I had messages! How fun!
Aberg14: Hi how are you? I’m down for some casual sex and just being good friends and talking and giving each other advice on everything and anything
SamSlam22: Hey 🙂 How’s it going today? I’m bored and horny on a day off 😉 Maybe we can have some fun
DrMan9: Hi I’m a doctor and very busy. Want to do something “casual”?
DaJoker: so out on the hunt for fun and games and naughty play?
Maybe I should not have checked the box for interested in “casual sex.”
I revised my profile because I was not interested in fun and games and naughty play with horny men on their day off.
I waited some time—letting the revision sink in—and began to review messages again. There were some “hey there” messages. Some winky face messages. Some “Gee whiz! You’re an archaeologist!” messages.
And this message…
Hans00: are you aware that your username means heil Hitler?
I investigated. Apparently 88 is Neo-Nazi code for “Heil Hitler” because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. Neo-Nazis get 88 tattoos, graffiti 88 on walls, and presumably use 88 in their online dating usernames.
My username was “balex-Heil-Hitler” and my profile said, “And by the way I’m not Jewish.”
Look, I’m a non-Jew, but I’m not anti-Jew! I’ve always had Jewish friends! I went to plenty of bar and bat mitzvahs, and I could find the commemorative tee-shirts in my parents’ attic to prove it!
I revised my profile again because Neo-Nazis really have a tough time dating in Israel.
To be continued.