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Feb 24, 2016

Are the Haredi representatives becoming more pragmatic and accepting?

The City Council of Jerusalem voted today regarding the First Station complex's operation on Shabbos. The Hared representatives wanted the complex to be closed on Shabbos, yet they lost the vote, by one vote, and the complex will continue to operate on Shabbos as it has until now.

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat announced the results of the vote stating that it is important for the complex to stay open on Shabbos as part of the status quo, and to give the ability to religious and secular to continue to live side by side in Jerusalem.

It turns out though that the vote passed because one of the Haredi representatives, Michael Malkieli of Shas, "disappeared" right before the vote, thus allowing the vote to fall in favor of the complex's continued operation on Shabbos..
sources: IBA, Kikar, Srugim, Kikar

I would assume this was planned and coordinated. Haredi reps don't just disappear on critical votes. The protest and vote was so they could show they are protesting chilul shabbos, while intentionally losing the vote and allowing it to continue, supposedly not mandated by them. Perhaps they even got something in return.

Are we seeing the softening of the Haredi position? Perhaps becoming more pragmatic?

In the past weeks we have seen them quietly allow the Reform Kotel deal go through, make a half-baked protest at the Supreme Court mikveh decision, a lot of useless talk about a nearly meaningless (because the meeting was after the fact) meeting between Netanyahu and Reform leaders (compared to the lack of protest at the more crucial voting and passage of issues, such as the kotel deal and the First Station complex), and now despite the protest they actually let the vote fall the other way regarding the First Station.

It cannot all just be a streak of bad luck, a losing streak of sorts. We have seen how when the Haredi representatives want to fight against something they go no holds barred and very loudly don't give up until they have won or until there is no choice, and they throw threats around whenever possible and necessary. Yet recently they have been very quiet while all this happens, only talking in situations that don't make a difference. Very strange.

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