supermisdreavus pointed me to this article yesterday: It’s a Sin to Be a Sucker in Israel. what an amusing read! =P if this is NOT an example of clannish behavior in israeli jews (i would bet mostly from mizrahi, sephardic, and eastern european ashkenazi jews), then i will eat somebody’s kippah!:
“It’s a Sin to Be a Sucker in Israel”
“Fear of being seen as a freier creates an unbending approach to life — from parking to peace talks. Israelis say the desire to be tough is rooted in history of survival.
July 25, 1997 | MARJORIE MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER
“JERUSALEM — Why does an Israeli driver speed up when another car signals its intent to enter his traffic lane? Because he doesn’t want to be a freier — a sucker.
“What do Israelis say when dodging military reserve duty? ‘What do I look like, a freier?’
“And how does the Club Riviera advertise its five-star apartments? ‘Only Freiers Pay More!’
“If Israelis could agree on anything — a highly unlikely prospect, but if they could — it just might be that the cardinal sin is to be a freier.
“‘It’s a national characteristic,’ said author Zeev Chafets, who included a chapter on the subject in his book about Israelis, ‘Heroes and Hustlers, Hard Hats and Holy Men.’ The topic ‘is something we talk about all the time.’
“A freier, in Israeli eyes, is a shopper who waits in line to pay retail. It is a driver who searches for legal parking rather than pulling onto the sidewalk with the other cars. And if he does this in a rush to file a tax return, he is the consummate freier.
“In short, a freier is anyone who cedes ground, plays completely by the rules or allows someone to get the better of him. The ideal Israeli is clever and tough, and a freier is the opposite. A pushover — in the way that Israelis often perceive Americans to be….
“The fear of being a sucker makes Israel a more rough-and-tumble place than its modern malls and high-tech industries might suggest. It turns driving into a bumper-car competition and makes grocery shopping as trying as arm wrestling.
“Disregard for rules — of common courtesy or the road — makes life unpredictable….
“In Maariv’s weekly column, ‘Who Is an Israeli?’ readers define themselves as the anti-freier:
“* ‘An Israeli is someone who lets you back out of a parking spot only if he needs it himself.’
“* ‘An Israeli is someone who pretends to be asleep when an old man gets on the bus.’
“* ‘An Israeli is pro-peace–as long as it is not made with enemies.””
i betcha bibi never lets another driver back out of a parking spot just to be courteous. (~_^)
“‘In London, the culture is to give way, be a gentleman, don’t compete,’ said Peri, the former editor. ‘But an Israeli is the opposite. If you are stronger, why should you give way to someone weaker? In a debate, the British will say, “You have a point.” In a debate here, no Israeli will admit he has been persuaded to change his mind. That shows weakness,’ he said.
“Americans as the Biggest Freiers of All
“Americans often find the Israeli attitude intolerably rude. Israelis, meanwhile, find Americans to be the biggest freiers of all. They are naive idealists. Whether tourists or Jewish immigrants, they are seen as easy marks.
“Author Shahar, a dual citizen of Israel and the United States, said Americans are perceived as innocents who follow the rules and who believe a person will actually do what he promises to do. ‘An American is willing to trust until someone proves to be untrustworthy,’ Shahar said. ‘Israel is much more like the rest of the world, where the basic assumption is that people . . . should not be trusted until proven trustworthy.’
“Israelis, she said, view rules as something to be challenged. If a sign says ‘no entrance,’ Israelis will try the door anyway. If a doctor’s assistant says no appointments are available today, an Israeli will keep pushing in the belief that exceptions will be made. Only a freier takes no for an answer.
“Israelis see this rule-bending as an advantage, particularly in times of war, when flexibility and improvisation can be a key to victory.
“Americans see used-car dealers as villains and sympathize with the consumer who has been had. But buy a lemon in Israel, and you are at fault. ‘You were naive and stupid enough to buy the car,’ Shahar said. ‘You were the freier.'”
i used to sometimes go shopping at an israeli supermarket nearby where i used to live. i’ll always remember the first time i ever shopped at this store — i was brought there by a persian friend of mine (who liked going there ’cause she could get all her middle eastern foodstuffs), and her advice to me was to get behind my shopping cart (my “carriage” for those of you up in new england!) and to NOT STOP for anybody! and she was absolutely right! these little old jewish — and other middle eastern — ladies, they were seventy and eighty years old, and they were RUTHLESS! absolutely deadly. =P i always got a kick out of the experience, but it’s not how i’d like to live my life everyday. my skillz were honed well enough, though, that where i live now, i easily shop at the local exotic food market which caters to somali and syrian refugees with little fear. (~_^)
here are a couple more articles on being a freier:
“Thou shalt not be a freier”
“By Shahar Ilan | Jan. 28, 2007
“The newspaper Shiluv (Integration), which was published in English by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry in 2002, explained to immigrant parents that in order for their children to function at school and in the army, they should not to be too sensitive. The children have to learn not to be freiers, it said, adding: You might find that they become more assertive and less polite than you would have hoped….”
“Word of the Day / Freier פראייר”
“Many of the stereotypes that foreigners love to level against Israelis may derive from a national fear of being taken for a sucker.
“By Shoshana Kordova | Jan. 14, 2013
“Why do Israelis crowd around the doors of a bus, elbows flailing, instead of lining up neatly and politely one behind the other? Well, yes, it’s partly because they’ve never been taught to do so, but it’s also because if they don’t get the chance to shove their way to the front or sneak their way in from the side, that might make them (cue impending sense of dread) freierim, to use the plural form of this Yiddish word.
“And why do Israelis who are buying just a few items at the supermarket feel compelled to ask the person before them in line if they can cut in front? In part, at least, it’s because they don’t want to be the freier who waits an eon just to buy a bag of milk and loaf of bread….”
previously: historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews
(note: comments do not require an email. bus queues in farringdon, 1955)