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Jan 31, 2016

River goes kosher, raises ire of Meretz

So a restaurant in Ranana decided last week to no longer open on Shabbos. The restaurant named "River" will now be closed for Shabbos and has converted to kosher under the Rabbanut hechsher.

Meretz did not like this change and has called for a boycott of the River restaurant, and calls on its followers to not patronize River during the week either.

This has raised quite an uproar, calling the move hypocritical (considering Meretz's statement when others called for a boycott on Arab businesses that expressed solidarity with a Palestinian strike against the security situation), calling it secular coercion, or just calling it too harsh a response.
source: Kipa, Srugim, Kooker

I am not a fan of boycotts, though I recognize they have the right to boycott a business that does not live up to their ideals, just like the religious often boycott businesses that are open on Shabbos, for example.

This will most likely have a boomerang effect, as boycotts often do. The religious community in Ranana and its environs will most likely rally around River restaurant and go there more to support it against Meretz. This boycott is probably the best publicity River could have ever hoped for.

As well, the supporters of Meretz have far less of organized buying power than the religious. When the haredim call to support or boycott a place that goes along with or against its ideals, it often has a powerful effect, as their organized power is very strong. With the non-religious, their organized power is not quite so strong, and even the general "left" does not necessarily support an act by Meretz. So, this call for boycott will most likely be ineffective even among the non-religious, but also will have that boomerang effect.

This reminded me of something a rosh yeshiva (of a dati leumi/modern orthodox yeshiva) once told me - he said he encourages people to rely on the Rabbanut hechsher and eat in restaurants that are under the Rabbanut hechsher. He explained that it is tremendous mesiras nefesh for a restaurant owner to decide to close on Shabbos and take a hechsher, and they should be supported for doing so.

There are not many restaurants in Raanana that are open on Shabbos. I don't know if his closing this restaurant on Shabbos is a result of economics - not enough patronization on Shabbos to make it worth losing all the kosher business during the week, or if it is because the owner is religious or just wants the day off or for any other reason - it is probably some sort of combination of reasons. At the end of the day, most of the time economics play the largest role in these decisions, and Meretz can call for all the boycotts in the world, but if they are not there supporting the non-kosher restaurants, they have nobody to blame but themselves when those restaurants choose to go kosher.


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  1. Good post, just to add another tidbit. The main strip in Raanana, Ahuza, is almost entirely closed on Shabbat, restaurants and stores, and I'm not even sure the non-kosher places are open. In contrast, the area of 'the park' where River is located, is the area where stuff is open on Shabbat. Perhaps the Meretz people are now feeling that some status quo is being breached since someone in 'their area' as turned?

  2. I don't think it is accurate that Meretz called for a boycott, there was one Meretz Activist who called for a boycott using Meretz Ranana's website/facebook page, but there was quite a backlash, including from many Meretz Supporters who said that calling for a boycott was a contradiction of the freedom of (or from) religion that Meretz believes in, and I think that Meretz removed the post pretty quickly and apologized.


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