Fight to lower prices in Israel

"[Israelis] must show the government that we are serious and that we want to be able to enjoy our hard-earned money."

April 1, 2013 23:45
Isreli currency.

Money cash Shekels currency 521. (photo credit: Reuters)

Passover has just passed, and most Israelis have done a great deal of shopping. Prices are high enough already, yet now, especially because of the holiday, the stores are happily raising prices, as usual, making it extremely difficult to buy things that people need to celebrate and enjoy this holiday.

In general, and it is a well-known fact, the average person in Israel hardly earns enough money to pay their monthly bills and has very little left over for extras, let alone a holiday. They start each month in the minus at the bank. Yet the store owners just keep getting richer and richer off our backs.

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It is also a known fact that Israelis are afraid to be without certain items... like bread, chicken or even tomatoes... even if the price is ridiculously high. They would rather pay the high prices than be without these items for even one week. I am sure that no one would get sick or die if they did not eat bread, chicken or tomatoes for a week. There are enough substitutes for bread and chicken. Fruits and vegetables are also extremely expensive. Yet people still buy. Why?

If we refused to buy bread or chicken for one week the stores would be stuck with the large quantities they have and at the end of the week, will be forced to throw out the old chickens, rotting tomatoes and stale bread that they did not sell, forcing them to lower prices.

We have to do something – now! Everyone must help fight to lower the prices here in Israel. Each and every one of us must do our part. We must strike and picket outside the stores and make a lot of noise for the newspapers, TV, the media and especially the government. But we have to start to do it, and right now! The longer we wait, the wealthier the store owners get and the less money we are left with.

When was the last time any of us got an increase in our salaries to compensate for the rising cost of living? We all work hard to earn our salaries. For many families who are paying rent or a mortgage and that have small children in school or day-care centers, more than half their income goes just to paying these bills. What about those families who have babies at home and have to buy diapers and formula? Diapers and formula alone on a monthly basis already cost close to NIS 1,000, if not more, just for one child! What about those families who have more than one small child who needs these items?

 What gives these stores the right to charge as much as they please? The people do!

I live in a small neighborhood called Savyonei Yam. We have only one small store here, the Mega Ba’ir. Each and every item in this store is at least NIS 2 more expensive than at any other store. Why? Because it is in our small neighborhood and convenient for people to get to. So the store allows itself to charge whatever prices it wants, since it knows people will buy from them. But if people would refuse to buy from this store and traveled a little farther outside the neighborhood, they would be able to buy the same items and more for the same money in a different store.

The money we earn here is Israel is in shekels, not US dollars. Not only that, but the relative purchasing power of our money is much lower: in the US, for example, you can buy a lot more for $5 than you can for the equivalent of NIS 20 here in Israel. Our lifestyle here is very different from lifestyles elsewhere, yet the cost of living here is way above and beyond most other countries. Why? Why do we have to work so hard to earn our money, and then not be able to enjoy it?

IT COSTS us money just to save money in the bank. The banks take a service fee for each and every transaction we make. Why? What good are the banks? The interest they offer on savings accounts is so low it is not even worth saving money in the bank. It is better to invest your money (for the small percentage of people that can afford the privilege of saving from their salaries) in something (real estate, the stock market) rather than allow the banks to get rich off your money.

As a Jew, I believe that Israel is my home, and there is no other place in the world I would rather live. I also believe that all of us living in this country, both Jews and non-Jews alike, have to do something drastic to make changes so that life will be worth living here, so that we can enjoy living here and not feel that we are working only to give our money away so that others can get rich.

I ask each and every citizen here in Israel to come together to fight for lower prices. The government will not help us. With all their discussions and promises, they offer only words and nothing more. If we do not help ourselves and each other – starting right now – no one will help us. So I ask that each of you be strong and do the right thing. Stop allowing the supermarkets to get rich. Buy only what is really a necessity for one full week, and nothing else.

Buy only the minimum for one week. Force the stores to lower their prices. Talk to all the neighbors in your apartment buildings or your neighbors who live on the same street and get them to picket and/or strike outside the local supermarkets. Write letters or send emails to your local newspapers making complaints that prices are too high and say that you refuse to continue shopping in those stores until the prices go down. Send letters or emails to the government demanding that they start taking control of prices and demand that they give us a raise in our salaries to compensate for the rise in the cost of living.

If each and every one of us does this, I am sure some action will be taken. We all must agree to help each other in doing this and to show the Israeli government that we are serious and that we want to be able to enjoy our hard-earned money.

Thanks for reading this letter, and I seriously hope and look forward to your cooperation in helping to fight now to lower prices and to make this country a better place to live in.

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