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Jun 26, 2013

Breaking of the law in Tel Aviv is not so bad unlike in Beitar or Amona

The big news of the day is the success of the lawsuit of small market owners in Tel Aviv against the city demanding enforcement of the Shabbos laws.

The city ignores the laws requiring businesses to be closed on Shabbos. The small market owners are at a disadvantage, as they close on Shabbos, and they want to continue closing on Shabbos, while the big chains stay open and the city basically ignores it while simply collecting the fine which is too measly for the chain stores to be concerned about anyway. Even small stores that want to stay open on Shabbos cannot, as the fines against them are too significant to bear. The city sees it as a way of promoting their liberal policy and making some money in the process (in both fines and tax collection), while at least superficially being able to point to the fine and saying we are following the law.

Surprise, surprise, but the courts actually upheld the law.

The Supreme Court decided that using the fines as the only method of enforcing the law is not achieving the goal - the goal being the businesses remaining closed on Shabbos - and it is upon the City of Tel Aviv to find alternate methods of enforcement to ensure the businesses remain closed. The current method of enforcement, the court said, is basically enabling the continued breaking of the law, with the rule of law being harmed in the process.

The Supreme Court also said that the City of Tel Aviv is not above the law, and if they do not like the law they are able to work to change the law, but in the meantime they must fulfill their obligations in enforcing it. The purpose of enforcing the law is not for religious or secular reasons, but because the law must be enforced. The law of Shabbos has both social and religious value, and the law requires the stores to be closed on Shabbos and not allowing them to be open as long as they are willing to pay the necessary fine (i.e. imposing the fine is meant to be a deterrent so stores will close - payment of the fine is not an allowance for them to then remain open).

The biggest losers of this decision, after the City of Tel Aviv, will be the chains of AM:PM and Tiv Taam. The biggest winners, after the small market owners, will be Shefa Shuk (or Zol b'Shefa as they are called now). Shefa Shuk has suffered from an unofficial haredi ban due to being owned by the same owners of AM:PM - with AM:PM blatantly flaunting their chilul shabbos, the haredi community has held an unofficial ban on Shefa Shuk in an attempt to pressure the owner to close AM:PM on Shabbos (as well as simply being upset about the chilul shabbos). While the ban has only been unofficial and I have not even heard anything about it in the past couple of years, I still have not seen the local Zol bShefa to be anywhere near busy, even at peak times, unlike the other local supermarkets. Forcing AM:PM to close on Shabbos might help Shefa.

The other point is that nobody, outside the Supreme Court, seems overly upset or shocked at the City of Tel Aviv's flaunting of the law. Many people have been quoted in the news as saying things about demanding the opening of these and more businesses, keeping Tel Aviv pluralistic and open, etc.

When religious folk say things not in line with the law but in support of their religious beliefs, when settlers talk about promotion of the furthering of their beliefs and lifestyles, when haredim talk about their lifestyles and beliefs, everyone goes up in arms about the rule of law, supporting the courts, etc. Just look at Justice Minister Tzippi Livni and her crusade against discrimination against women in the haredi public (not unjustified) - I have not heard her talking about the rule of law in Tel Aviv and setting up a task force and hotline to deal with the breaking of the Day of Rest law. Suddenly the greatest ideal in society has nothing to do with the straight following of the law.












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11 comments:

  1. Frankly, I think this double standard complaint is getting a little old. Often, this complaint goes out against the Supreme Court - and here, that supposedly leftist, anti-religious Supreme Court is requiring TA to enforce the law against stores opening on Shabbat. Or change the law. It sounds like a good, fair decision.

    Not everybody is going to make a public stink about every issue. If you want to pick on Tvipi Livni, why not pick on the people who organized the protests against Women of the Wall? Instead of rallying against a handful of women praying in tallisim and not really hurting anyone, why weren't they out there sticking up for the poor mom and pop store owners in TA being squeezed by the big chains opening on Shabbat and paying their pittance of a fine? You can make this double standard argument about anybody that protests anything - hey, why do you protest this and not that? Why did UTJ only discover money going to the settlements when they went into the opposition? Why does the radical right only discover the evils of administrative detention when its used on them? By that standard, everyone's a hypocrite!

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    1. I don't understand your connection.

      I didn't pick on livni because I don't like get as a politician (though I don't). I mentioned her because she is the justice minister and is supposed to protect and defend the rule of law, and not just on issues that are her personal crusades..

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  2. OK, I see your point. But according to what I read, this is under the jurisdiction of the Tel Aviv Municipality, not the Justice Department. I'm not sure who brought the case, but the case did get brought, and it was decided in favor of the Shomrei Shabbat, so I'm not sure how anything here makes Livni into a hypocrite. Further, to say that "when settlers talk about promotion of the furthering of their beliefs and lifestyles, when haredim talk about their lifestyles and beliefs, everyone goes up in arms about the rule of law, supporting the courts, etc" - I really don't understand this. People get up in arms about the rule of law when settlers threaten to confront the army rather than obey Supreme Court rulings to evacuate land, or when roshei yeshivas call on their students to defy orders, or when roshei yeshivas tell their students to ignore draft notices. I don't think they get up and arms about anybody "talking about their lifestyle and beliefs." They get up in arms when those lifestyles and beliefs are being used to defy the authority of the state on life and death matters that affect the future borders of the country and the integrity of the army.

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  3. lets not get distracted. The post was not an anti-Livni post. mentioning her was a side point. the side point of mentioning Livni was that all of the sudden a lot of people are talking about how bad the supreme court is and how the city should continue to allow the shops to remain open despite the law, and there is little condemnation (a few tel aviv mayoral candidates and a couple of MKs did condemn such talk).

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    1. Well, if people are talking about defying the ruling, and they are the same people that support the rule of law in other contexts, I would agree that they are being hypocrites. I didn't see such reactions. What I read is that a lot of politicians support the ruling, some want to reexamine the law in question - a perfectly legitimate response - and the TA municipality, which is the only entity that is actually in a position to defy or not defy the ruling, is studying the matter.

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  4. I just saw now that R' Mottka Bloi said things about this very similar to me. I wonder if that means I must rethink my approach...

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    1. I meant Rav Yitzchak Goldknopf. not Bloi

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  5. LOL. Actually, I don't know who R' Mottka Bloi is, but I get the idea. And I really like the quote from Meirav Michaeli that you just posted.

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  6. What the hell is going on in Tel Aviv - there are non-religious Jews like myself and my family (my son lives in Tel Aviv - we live in the US) who when we come out to visit him - will shop at the AM/PM market on Saturday - I thought that Israel was for all the Jews; not like the religious idiots who want to impose their ideas on everyone.

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    1. Anon, even non-religious employees deserve a day of rest. Some, even in my company, feel they are obligated to work on Shabbat when the manager calls them up to connect to the servers, even though they would prefer not to.

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    2. Agree with Josh. And it puts stores that do not open on Shabbat at a competitive disadvantage.

      The main problem with this law actually has nothing to do with religious observance. It has to do with the fact that AM/PM gets away with ignoring the law, and profits by opening on Shabbat because as a large chain, it can absorb the nominal fines it is charged, which smaller stores competing with AM/PM cannot do. What the court was saying here is that if Tel Aviv is going to have a law against opening on Shabbat, it has to enforce the law in a way that does not allow chains like AM/PM from using the law to benefit at the expense of the competition.

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