Comparing U.S. and Israeli Business Etiquette Practices

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COMPARING U.S. AND ISRAELI BUSINESS ETIQUETTE PRACTICES By Jason S. Levine As the United States of America continues to expand its business ties globally, familiarity with the cultures and customs of other nations has become increasingly imperative for sustainable commercial success. One nation in particular that merits cultural consideration is the State of Israel, which maintains a high degree of commerce with the United States despite its limited size and natural resources. As of 2009, Israel was the nineteenth most substantial export market for American goods and resources (Martin & Chaney, 2009). Additionally, Israel’s technological innovations and egalitarian business views make it by far the most modernized country in the Middle East. From a historical standpoint, Israel has a rich past with direct links to some of the world’s oldest and most widespread religions, namely Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. All of these factors point to the necessity of recognizing and understanding both the similarities and differences between American and Israeli business practices in terms of communication, attire, meetings, dining, and exchanges in order to carry out international trade effectively. Intercultural Business Communication Appropriate communication is an essential part of any business transaction; thus, U.S.-Israeli trade relies heavily on the awareness of cultural differences between the two nations to avoid potential interferences to communication. Although Hebrew and Arabic are Israel’s official languages, the majority of Israelis speaks English and often uses it in the course of business, which aids in the communication process with the United States (“Israel,” 2005). Israelis also greet each other comparably to Americans with customary greetings, firm handshakes, and addresses with titles and surnames (“United States of America,” 2005).

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