"They're not the 'Oh, let me help you with your taxes' Jews. They're the 'Can you hold my machine gun while I take a leak' Jews. It's a different culture."Israelis are badass. No ifs, ands, or buts. They are a Proud Warrior Nation and it is a national law that each one must have a Moment of Awesome on his Bar Mitzvah. The polite softspoken Israeli with glasses is a myth. If one miraculously appears, you can count on him being a Badass Bookworm. If an Israeli is a villain you can count on him being something cool like an Arms Dealer or an assassin. Every female Israeli is an Action Girl Squadette who always looks great in her combat fatigues and beret with her Uzi jauntily slung over her shoulder. Every male Israeli is an Ace Pilot, or a spy for the Mossad (their other intelligence agencies are so secretive, Hollywood hasn't heard of them; and anyway no one can beat that name for coolness). The Israeli Defense Force does not have a single Obstructive Bureaucrat like, oh, every other army in the entire world. It is too much of a Badass Army. The above is partial Truth in Television, since the IDF maintains a more independent, less regimented mode of operation than many militaries, training their units to think on their feet. This, however, also leads to the IDF making mistakes that a more regimented army wouldn't. Oh, and it definitely does have its fair share of Obstructive Bureaucrats (any Israeli can tell you about how horribly inefficient the IDF can be), mostly in the form of disgruntled 19-year-olds. Israeli-born Jews' preferred nickname for themselves evokes the same trope. Tsabar (pl. tsabarim) — borrowed into English as "sabra" — are cactus fruits, soft and sweet on the inside, but tough, thorny and nigh impenetrable outside. Fun Fact: "Israel" literally translates to "wrestles with God", after Jacob did just that. And (almost) won. Related to Israelis with Infrared Missiles. Can loosely apply to non-Israeli Jewish characters who are as tough as shoe leather, at least if their Jewishness is played up enough. Can often be Truth in Television too, as evidenced below.
— Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
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- Sabra from Marvel Comics is a badass female member of the Mossad and a mutant to boot. And is the SOLE superhero for Israel, which she is more than qualified for. Her codename is the Anglicized form of tsabar.
- Richard Dragon "Iron" Aron Abromowitz, a former MOSSAD agent and one of the deadliest martial artists in the world, in the latest series.
- In Y: The Last Man, Israel becomes a regional military superpower (even more than it is now) because its armed forces contain the most trained and serving women, both relative to its population and in absolute numbers, after the gendercide wipes out a large chunk of other nations' militaries. Like in real life, many of these women are shown to be inexperienced in actual combat since most women in the Israeli Defence Force are used in support and logistical positions, but they at least possess the training and background experience to maintain a functioning warmachine, at a time when other nations' militaries are totally falling apart. Israel has occupied large portions of the Middle East, and can even project force as far away as the United States, when Alter crosses the Atlantic in an attempt to find the last man. Her soldiers might be inexperienced, but Alter herself is badass (Also psychotic, obsessed, willing to kill innocent people to achieve her goals, and looking to die...but still badass).
- Epraim Katz, an elderly Mossad agent who also fought in the XV international brigade, teams up with his old comrades in The Black Order Brigade to fight a band of old fascists from the Spanish Civil War. Katz has survived the holocaust, after losing an eye in the civil war, and after that, he has been working with the Mossad. He survives the whole storyline until he is taken down by gunfire from the fascists at the end of the book. Doubles as a Badass Grandpa along with the rest of the main characters.
- Sharmin Rosen, a one-shot character in the 1988 comic miniseries Batman: A Death in the Family. She was born in New Jersey and emigrated to Israel as soon as she was old enough to leave home (and at one point, self-identifies as an Israeli despite being American-born). She works for the Israeli intelligence, knows judo and has no qualms about shooting Lebanese terrorists in the head. More to the point, she is one of three women who could possibly be the biological mother of Jason Todd (Robin). How Jason's father actually met her is never explained, but they were obviously just friends: Sharmin admits to never having given birth to a child in Gotham City.
- Magneto/Erik Lensherr was a Nazi hunter working with the Mossad and the CIA at the same time for some time and was living in Israel when he first met Charles Xavier.
- Discussed throughout an entire chapter of Fables, in which Bigby Wolf talks at some length about how he admires Israel's tenacity and "grit" in a world that's aiming to destroy it.
Films — Live-Action
- Ari Ben Canaan in Exodus.
- IDF sniper Isabelle in Predators, who is the only woman in the group.
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan an Adam Sandler movie plays this for laughs and takes it up to eleven. Zohan is, simply put, the baddest man alive. His Palestinian rival the Phantom (a man so awesome in his own right that he can walk on the ceiling) is the only man in the world whose awesomeness can even compare, and he still does not come close. Zohan's most badass feat is shown in a flashback when after being captured and having a hand cut off, said severed hand flies up, chokes his interrogator to death and then fetches Zohan a drink. To top it off, he's surprisingly effeminate. His dream in life is to be a hairdresser, which he pursues. And he satisfies his customers in every sense of the word. The story is based on the real Nezi Arbib, though obviously embellished for humor.
- Mordechai in The Hebrew Hammer (a reference to Judah Macabee) if he is really an Israeli, the movie is kinda vague about the location. But he even has his parody of the Shaft theme.
- Gisele Yashar in Fast Five is a sexy ex-Mossad agent (played by real Israeli actress Gal Gadot).
- Gadot is not only a model and actress, she received military training as part of her mandatory 2 years of service in the IDF. She attributes her gun training and willingness to perform her own stunts to why she was chosen for the Fast and Furious franchise and is currently lined up to play Wonder Woman.
- Referenced in City of God. Part of the sales pitch for some Brazilian arms dealers is to point out the Star of David on an Uzi to note that the gun is "Jewish."
- Eyal in Walk on Water begins the movie as a straight example but is gradually de-constructed. In the film, he is forced to take on lighter work until he can pass a psychological exam, and ends up pretending to be a tour guide for the grandson of a Nazi war criminal still at large.
- The shotgun-toting Rabbi in Lucky Number Slevin certainly qualifies. Some of his Orthodox Jewish henchmen are also pretty tough. When asked by Slevin, the Rabbi justifies carrying a shotgun by claiming that "self-defense" isn't a sin, even if self-defense involves shooting someone being held down by his men.
- In Steven Spielberg's Munich, this applies to varying degrees to all members of the assassination squad. Avner and Steve are both ex-Mossad while the rest of the squad make up for in guile and viciousness what they lack in military experience.
- While the male protagonist in the film Ushpizim is living a quiet religious life, backstory reveals that his temper was once feared throughout Eilat's criminal element. Even after years within a religious community, his career-criminal friends find his rage terrifying.
- World War Z. Israel falls to the Zombies. The IDF soldiers put up one hell of a last stand.
- The Israeli animated documentary Waltz with Bashir deconstructs the image of the badass Israeli soldier, looking at how the 1982 Lebanon War changed various soldiers, and in particular the events surrounding the Sabra and Shatila massacre (which was carried out by a group of Lebanese Christians) that Israel did nothing to stop.
- Ex-Mossad (or perhaps not-quite-ex-Mossad) agent Levi Abrams in the Babylon Rising series.
- Major Kabakov in Black Sunday. When a perp won't talk, he suggests offering the man some refreshments. "Call me when he has finished eating his testicles."
- In the Burke books by Andrew Vachss, Burke sometimes asks for and receives help from Israeli spooks working in the US.
- Jake Eldar and Miriam Schaeffer in Lance Charne's Doha 12 are a former IDF commando and former Magav (Border Police) respectively, and very badass. Plus there's the Mossad team...
- Ender's Game Invoked. There is a myth that "Jewish generals never lose".
- Exodus by Leon Uris is Very Loosely Based on a True Story, namely, the founding of the State of Israel after World War II. The characters all take levels in badass, going from "trapped in a Russian ghetto" to "walking across Eurasia" to "taking on an entire village with just a whip" to "running an unarmed freighter through the whole Royal Navy." Then, the newly-formed nation fights off the combined force of the Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi armies.
- The Jack West Jr. series by Matthew Reilly. Stretch was pretty Badass, and he was Israeli (and a Legolas Expy).
- To the point where he can shoot RPGs out of the air with a sniper rifle.
- The Mossad agent Rosenthol in Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly. He knew everything about everybody.
- Martin Kur(t)z (and his entire team) in The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré.
- The Peleagea novels by Boris Akunin contain a predecessor to the Badass Israeli—Magellan is a 19th century Badass Zionist.
- The Robe invoked this rather backhandedly. A Roman centurion says of Jews, "He whines in trade, but he is no whiner in battle"
- Rabin in Star Trek: Vulcan's Forge.
- In Three Days to Never by Tim Powers, the Mossad team and they are fighting an equally badass team of evil Templar Knights, no holds barred, for a secret that possibly could transform the world.
- In World War Z, Israel is one of the only nations still functioning after the war, mainly because they were the ONLY nation to actually take the threat seriously. It is specifically explained that after the surprise of the Yom Kippur War, Israel's intelligence agencies had become committed to considering any rumored threat, no matter how ridiculous it might sound. The sheer level-headedness with which the Israelis responded to the crisis puts all other nations to shame. While other nations were in denial, after thorough research the Israelis realized what was happening, and initiated a voluntary self-quarantine: literally building a giant wall of reinforced concrete around all of its land borders, like a mini-Great Wall of China. Then, to convince their Arab neighbors that this is not to secure territorial conquests, they announce that they will let any Palestinians back into the country, provided that they go through medical screening and arrive before the date they seal the wall. Few believed them at the time, but at least this measure prevented neighboring Arab states from openly declaring war over the quarantine. Within a year, most of the world was overrun by shambling hordes of the undead numbering in the hundreds of millions - while Israel survived behind the wall as an island in a sea of zombies.
- Ernest K. Gann's The Antagonists, a semi-fictionalized account of the siege of Masada, features an entire mountain full of badasses. Said mountain is so impenetrable that they had to flatten out one side of the mountain into a ramp to reach them.
- From Zero History by William Gibson we learn that even Israeli underwear is Bad Ass.
Heidi shrugged out of her leather jacket, tossed it aside, and pulled her black T-shirt off, revealing an olive-drab bra that looked as combat-ready as any bra Hollis had ever seen.
- In the How to Ruin series by Simone Elkeles, Amy's Israeli boyfriend Avi.
- In The High Crusade, Israel is actually shown as the ruler of a starfaring empire.
- In The Kingdom and the Crown Simeon, Yehuda, Daniel, the Zealots, and Galileans in general; the Romans are always wary of stirring them up.
- In Neal Stephenson 's Cryptonomicon Avi, one of the main characters, employs Israeli nurses who, while not exactly gun-toting, are still described as being fearsomely efficient.
- Dr. Tsion Ben-Judah in the Left Behind book series becomes both this and a Badass Preacher at the battle of Armageddon, risking his life to defend Jerusalem while preaching about Jesus Christ to the Jews before He comes.
- In Dan Simmons' Illium/Olympos series, Savi is a badass Israeli.
- In Harry Harrison's To the Stars trilogy, Israel is one of the few remaining true democracies remaining in the Post Peak Oil Crapsack World ruled by a dictatorship. They are managing to hold their own against, pretty much, the entire world. In fact, in the third novel, they lead an attack against a heavily-defended spaceport in the Mojave Desert.
- In the Burn Notice season 1 episode "Family Business", the episode's antagonists are The Zamar Family: Arms Dealers". The family members have varying levels of badass; the father is ex-Mossad, but the younger son is not too terribly bright, so the Guile Hero mostly deals with the latter and stays the hell away from the former.
- Annie from Covert Affairs works with Eyal Lavin, a Mossad agent, in one episode, and he's unimpressed with her amateurish ways. Later she grows on him. In further episodes, Eyal appears as either an ally or a Worthy Opponent depending on the vagaries of the spy game. After Annie is captured by the FSB and held for weeks in a secret Russian prison, Eyal single-handedly rescues her without breaking a sweat.
- The Entourage gang suspect that Vince has a stalker, so they go overboard and hire a hardcore Israeli security team.
- Hana Gitelman from Heroes. Granted, she showed up mostly in the Graphic Novels, but she was awesome nonetheless.
- The sexy neighbour in Hung is a very fit and sexually aggressive Israeli former Squadette, with strong opinions about hummus.
- Mikel Dayan, Eliot's female Israeli muscle counterpart, in the Leverage episode "The Two Live Crew Job". Eliot references a Noodle Incident involving her killing a guy with a mop once. At the end of the episode, they compare scars, and it's heavily implied that the one Eliot got from a sniper's bullet in Myanmar was put there by Mikel.
- Mad Men referenced this in an episode where executives of the company try to learn about Israel while considering how to pitch it as a tourist destination. All they can figure out on their own is that the women are attractive and have machine guns. When asked for her opinion on Israelis, a New York Jew can only advise Don Draper not to cross them.
- NCIS has a few:
- Ziva David, who is so badass that Gibbs has to remind her to slash the FBI's tires, not their throats. Heck, when she's left out of any stage of a mission, it's for the suspect's safety, not hers.
- Ziva's brother Ari.
- Michael Rivkin despite his unpleasant looks and personality could be interpreted more as a Worthy Opponent than a villain. He was still doing his job, the prey he was pursuing were dangerous enemies, not innocents, and he was effectively doing the same sorts of things Ziva did before she switched jobs. At least until he attacked Tony. He was drunk out of his mind when he did that though, but was hiding it really well.
- Eli David's bodyguards were Badass Israelis. They were also nicer than Michael and one is a beautiful Lady of War.
- In a fourth season episode of Queer as Folk, when a man is bashed on the street, an angry gay man tries to convince the community that they should stop being such "wimps" and defend themselves. The example he uses to protest against gays taking offensive slurs lying down: "Try calling an Israeli a kike! Man, they'd blow your ass right off the face of the Earth!"
- Israeli bombshell Yael in Weeds takes this in interesting directions, especially in her story about her dead commanding-officer boyfriend; apparently when she brought a man in for a threesome, he shot her in the shoulder, but she admits that if he hadn't she would've thought he was a pussy. Plus this whole speech begins with "Israeli men are so macho."
- Eton Ben-Eliezer, the Greek's drug lieutenant in The Wire.
- Golda Meir in the miniseries A Woman Called Golda. Played by Ingrid Bergman. And in Real Life too of course. Hell hath no fury like a Jewish Mother.
- Meta-example: The titles of the American, Australian, British, Thai, and Vietnamese versions of Iron Chef are all more or less direct translations of the original Japanese Ryōri no Tetsujin. The Israeli version, however, is called Krav Sakinim — "Knife Fight".
- In Andromeda one of the Nietzchean Prides is named "Sabra". As Nietzchean naming customs always seem to relate to Badass stuff, they must hold Israelis in high regard.
- Eleazar ben Ya'ir from Masada, of the Badass Israelite variety.
- On Royal Pains, Boris' security team is made up of ex-Mossad agents. When called upon, they tend to be pretty competent.
- Samar Navabi in The Blacklist.
- Lt. Ravit Bivas in season 2 of The Last Ship.
- Texas country singer James McMurtry's "Choctaw Bingo" contains the lyric: "...and a Desert Eagle, that's one great big ol' pistol/I mean, .50 caliber made by badass Hebrews..."
Myths & Religion
- Appropriately enough, given the country. The Old Testament in The Bible is the Ur-Example , which portrays the Israelites as a Proud Warrior Religion. Of course, it was written by the Hebrews for the Hebrews, so its possible that their objectivity might not be all that it could be.
- Samson kills a thousand soldiers with the jawbone of a donkey...and follows up with a pun.* He also lifted two-ton doors and took them for a hike, lifted a loom by his hair, tore a lion apart with his bare hands, and, imprisoned, blinded and chained to a wall for his enemies to laugh at, simply yanked the chain hard enough to pull down the entire building.
- The first example of Mossad-style infiltration and assassination is done by a short, left-handed Ehud. He is said to have invented the double-edged sword.
- There is also Shamgar, mentioned only in one verse. All it says is he took an ox goad (which is essentially a stick with a pointy end, and a hooked end) and singlehandedly slaughtered a group of 300 Philistines.
- Deborah, who led Israel against the Canaanites.
- Yael dispatched Sisera, the fleeing General of the Canaanite army, by inviting him into her tent, giving him with milk (instead of water as he requested) to tire him out, "covering" him in her bed until he fell asleep, before finally driving a tent stake through his head. This single-handedly won a war.
- Barak is something of a double subversion, though. He refused to go into battle against the Canaanites unless Deborah agreed to go with him, which she did. Of course, this only further cements Deborah's own badassery.
- Moses killed a guy just by speaking God's name. He also iced an Egyptian who was beating up Hebrew workers.
- David. As a teenage shepherd, he had to regularly kill wild beasts that would try to prey on his flock. Then he killed Goliath and became a badass king.
- Gideon, especially considering the odds he and his band of underdogs were up against.
- Basically any of the leaders from the Book of Judges, which covers a time period where, in lieu of kings, Israel was ruled by a series of badasses.
- Jacob, had his name changed to "Israel", meaning "Wrestles with God", after doing exactly that. From night till daybreak. To a stalemate. And didn't release his submission hold until he got a blessing (and after God moved Jacob's sciatic nerve an inch or two). Arguably makes him the Trope Codifier and Ur-Example, by virtue of being the very first Israeli. Hell, as we just explained above, he was Israel.
- Elijah the Prophet destroyed two detachments of soldiers by saying, "If I am a Man of God, may fire come down and consume you and your fifty men."
- Elijah's successor Elisha could summon she-bears to attack those who insulted him. Granted, he seems to have been over-sensitive since he set those bears on a group of young toughs.
- Judah the Hammer/Yehudah Ha Maccabee, who started the rebellion against the Greeks, aka .
- During the training mission in Hitman: Codename 47, the main character has a chance to try out an Uzi, the voice over the loudspeaker notes that it" "must be a fine weapon if the Israelis use it with such zeal".
- In the Rainbow Six series, Ayana Yacoby is portrayed as a upper to top tier special forces commando, and in the story driven Lockdown shown to be not only Bad Ass, but bitchy as well.
- The Deus Ex series has a few. The first game has Russo-Israeli UNATCO agent Anna Navarre, while the prequel features Tyrant leader Jaron Namir and Belltower commander Netanya Keitner.
- Subverted, if not outright averted in The Salvation War, as the author has a far more negative view of the Israeli military qualitatively (not morally): an Israeli helicopter raid to take the Minos Gate is successful (though with unfortunate collateral damage), but he Israeli army is regarded by other countries' armies as brave to a fault but reckless (with both driving and fire discipline), and the Israeli Navy is outright dangerously incompetent. Basically all the badassery isn't worth a damn when that attitude led to, in trying to avoid Rear-Echelon Motherfuckers (REMFs), getting rid of the ethic needed for seemingly "unmanly" staff work... like keeping track of your own nuclear submarine!
- According to a more properly-trained general at the Israeli central headquarters, no one would have found it plausible if it were written fiction, yet here it was happening before his very eyes. According to him (and the author out-of-character), the USS Liberty incident was due to a previous catastrophic failure on the Israeli Navy's part.
- In The Simpsons 2010 episode "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed", the Simpsons, Ned Flanders, and others tour Israel. The tour guide (Sacha Baron Cohen) is nothing special, but his daughter (Yael Naim) is this. At one point she chases down and fights Bart. Sure, he says he knows karate (and does), but her Krav Maga is stronger. She even lampshades her groin attacks:
"No groin, no Krav Maga!"
- Israel has been involved in seven conflicts that it recognizes as "wars" since its inception, plus any number of violent conflicts with its neighbors and internal strife that it doesn't think of as wars. But the three that cement Israel's reputation are these:
- The 1948 War of Independence: the newly-formed state had to fight off basically all the countries around it. Highlights include 150 soldiers, not all of whom were even experienced soldiers, achieving "tactical stalemate" against Syrian forces consisting "of one infantry brigade, one tank battalion, two armoured vehicle battalions, and one artillery battalion."
- The Six-Day War: Egypt and Syria massed their forces for an invasion after Soviet intelligence incorrectly told Egyptian Vice-President Anwar Sadat that the Israelis were planning an invasion of Syria. Israel launched the most impressive preemptive strike in modern history, destroying the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian Air Forces in a matter of hours. Iraq attempted to send in reinforcements to assist the Arab armies, but before they could fire a single bullet, they were halted by Israeli aircraft raining down napalm upon them. The war ended up with Israel capturing the entire Sinai peninsula, Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank (including all of Jerusalem, reuniting the city), tripling its territory. On the seventh day, they rested.
- The Yom Kippur War: A partial aversion of this, given that Israel actually got its ass kicked fairy badly during the initial stages of the war. However, thanks to a combination of American arms shipments (without which it is quite doubtful it could have turned the tide as well as it did) and some rather questionable generalship on the Arabs' side, eventually led to Israel making swift gains and achieving a military victory. However, the sheer ferocity of the Arab advance in the beginning coupled with the fact the war really could have gone either way more or less shattered the Israelis' sense of invincibility that they had enjoyed since the end of the 1967 war. While it is sometimes mentioned that Israel was essentially "caught off guard" and attacked while the majority population was fasting, it ought to be noted that the Yom Kippur war also took place during the month of Ramadan, meaning that the Arabs were fasting too, and were doing so for much, much longer and far more stringent conditions.
- Moshe Dayan, mastermind of the pre-emptive strike in the Six-Day War, complete with Eyepatch of Power.
- Golda Meir, one of the first female heads of state of the modern world (nicknamed "The Iron Lady" before Margaret Thatcher), was involved in the founding of Israel.
- Operation Entebbe, which inspired the Chuck Norris film The Delta Force.
- Imi Liechtenfield, a boxer who lived in Bratislava during anti-Semitic riots, developed the close-combat style later called Krav Maga with other Jewish athletes. He emigrated to Israel after the war and became the head of the IDF's physical training program... meaning that everyone in the IDF learns at least some Krav Maga, so they can break people into pieces with their bare hands should the need arise.
- Israeli Fighter Pilots are badass not just for their dogfighting abilities and numerous kills. Even within the IDF, the flight schools are considered hardcore and is the most difficult course to join. The top scoring jet ace in the world (the so called "ace of aces") is Giora Epstein, an Israeli. Originally rejected as physically unfit, he fought to get a slot as a fighter pilot after serving for a time as a paratrooper. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, he was separated from the other fighters in his group and took on eleven Egyptian MiGs single-handedly near the Great Bitter Lake. He killed four before running out of targets and fuel. Flying home, he asked the flight controller if there were any more targets he could take on the way.
- In wake of the Transportation Security Administration's decision to start groping airline passengers, many (even at least one Congressman) have called for airline security modelled after what Israel uses at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, citing that their flag carrier El Al is an amazingly safe airline for all the people that want them dead.
- Dr. Ruth Westheimer, before she became a famous sex therapist. She emigrated to Palestine after WW 2 where she joined the Haganah (a Jewish paramilitary force that later became the basis of the Israeli defence forces). Due to her small size (being less than 5' tall), she was trained as a scout/sniper. Westheimer was seriously wounded in action by an exploding shell during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, and it was several months before she was able to walk again.
- The capture of SS officer Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann had fled to Argentina (like some other Nazis) after the fall of the Third Reich. Undercover Mossad agents tracked him down, kidnapped him on the street in broad daylight, drugged him, and smuggled him out of the country on a commercial airline. Eichmann was taken back to Israel, tried, and became literally the only person in Israeli history to receive the death penalty in a fair trial.note
- Invoked by the State of Israel in its early days, when it was eager to point tourists to places where Jewish forces defeated Arab forces in battle. The practice faded out when it became clear that tourists didn't really have that in mind.
- Actress Gal Gadot's main acting credit has been her role as Gisele Yashar in the Fast and Furious franchise. When she was announced as being the first actress to play Wonder Woman on the big screen, the reaction was overwhelmingly, vehemently negative due to her thin frame, with accusations thrown at WB and DC Comics for wanting an unhealthy model rather than a "real woman." Those people likely did not know that while she is a model, Gadot performed all her own stunts in Fast and Furious, received military training as part of her mandatory two years of service in the IDF, was a fitness trainer for said military, can handle guns and in addition to the martial arts she already knows, immediately began training in jiu-jitsu, caperoia and sword fighting. Also, she attributed her training as a main reason why she landed her role in Fn F, a stunt-heavy franchise.