Aug 31, 2017

Israeli Football is stuck between a rock and a hard place

The never-ending saga of Israeli Football on Shabbos continues, at a not particularly opportune time.

Until now the Haredi politicians largely avoided picking a fight with Israeli sports enthusiasts. Despite the Supreme Court even declaring football on Shabbos to be illegal, the Haredi politicians never pressed the issue. They always allowed the temporary permits to be issued, even until today.

The tightest situation came when Aryeh Deri was the minister in charge of giving the permits. Instead of rejecting the permit, he passed the responsibility off to others and then changed his ministerial position..

Now, in the midst of the fights and pressure about working on the train line son Shabbos with the Haredi politicians increasing the pressure weekly, the issue of Israeli Football on Shabbos has returned. Bad timing for the Football people. The Haredi politicians almost cannot allow it to pass now, in the middle of the other fight.

According to Walla News, PM Netanyahu wants to give a permanent permit to the football league to play its games on Shabbos, instead of continuing the procedure of them needing to request a new permanent permit every year or two that has been automatically granted. A permanent permit for Shabbos activity would avoid the issue of the Supreme Court declaring the games illegal and prejudiced against religious athletes. The Haredi politicians oppose this change and even canceled a meeting with Netanyahu that had been scheduled for today because of this new issue. They consider it a serious breach in the Status Quo and say that they cannot allow a government in which they are a part of to grant official status to chilul shabbos.

I wait to see how this will be resolved. Netanyahu cannot afford to let Israeli Football be canceled, even temporarily, over religious issues, and the Haredi parties cannot afford, at this point, to continue ignoring the situation. Israeli Football is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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