Don’t be a Freier!

Peter Ostrin says:

While I have no experience at archaeological digs, and therefore no real practical words of wisdom to impart to those of you (like me) coming to dig at Megiddo for the first time, I do know about Israel. I have lived here ten years this summer, and have studied the country and its people from close-up. In a nutshell, the central theme to life in Israel is to avoid being a “freier”.

“Don’t be a Freier”, which sort of means don’t be a sucker (and so much more) is a basic tenant of life here. People will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being ripped off, being taken advantage of, or worse yet, missing an opportunity to take advantage of other people and situations. Calling someone a freier is an insult, but it doesn’t stick. You can be a freier one minute and make someone else a freier the next. Not being a sucker impacts every level of Israeli life from waiting in lines, to driving a car, even through politics and the peace process. Being a freier is about missed opportunities, blindly following the rules and being taken advantage of by “The Man”.

But, what does all this this mean for you! You could easily spend your time here worrying endlessly about being ripped off and being
taken advantage of. You’re not in Kansas anymore and Israelis can be rude, aggressive and unkind. But one on one, the people here
are the most friendly, open-hearted and genuine bunch on the planet, all just waiting for a chance to practice their English. Taking
advantage of “freiers” is more like a local sport than an organized plot against foreigners. Locals, try avoiding it as they may, are
frequently freiers too.

So, here’s my advice.

Accept that at while traveling in Israel you will often be a Freier. In fact, more than accept this, embrace it. Choose to be a Freier at least once a day (let’s start a movement).

Accept that you will be overcharged by taxis. Yes, your coffee will cost more than the guy who lives round the corner from the coffee shop. Someone will definitely pay less for the self same stuff you haggled over in the shuk.

It’s OK. Breathe deep and save your strength for the dig, looks like we’re going to need it.

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One Response to “Don’t be a Freier!”

  1. Taxis can rip you off especially in Jerusalem (there its a national sport). If you think you are been overcharged — ask for a receipt (there should be the name of the taxi rank/company and a telephone number) plus make a note or take a digital photo of the taxi’s license/car number plate number. Phone the number on the receipt and tell them the taxi license number/car numberplate, from where to where the journey was and at what time. If they took you for a ‘ride’ you will get your money back and the taxi driver will be fined and probably loose his taxi license for a month or so as a punishment. This works — I have done it — especially in the days when my Hebrew was less good.

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