The city of Tel Aviv has issued a warning to over 300 businesses that they will face closure if they continue to operate on Shabbos.
The warning follows a decision earlier in the week by Interior Minister Gideon Saar (Likud) to void a proposed municipal bylaw that would have allowed the neighborhood markets and kiosks which have long been violating Shabbos rest laws to continue to do so, though for the first time with municipal approval.
However, the AM:PM and Tiv Ta’am markets declared that they will defy the law and remain open on Shabbos as usual. AM:PM chief Ido Mor added that his company, and, he believes, the municipality too, will file a petition with the High Court aimed at overturning Saar’s decision.
In the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, Saar defended his ruling, arguing that those who will defy the law are hypocrites who uphold the rule of law only when it suits their interests.
“Anyone who speaks seriously about the rule of law cannot ignore the fact that running businesses on Shabbos is a violation of the law. One cannot support the rule of law only when it’s comfortable, one has to be consistent,” he said.
Furthermore, Saar asked pointedly, “Is the conquest of another sector of the marketplace through an additional day of work the tradition of the Jewish people?”
Saar warned of a slippery slope of desecration. “If the desire is to make money and to go shopping, where do we draw the line? It will not stop here. We are liable to come to a complete destruction of the day of rest.”
Saar explained that when making his decision, he asked himself if the average secular Israeli would want the streets of his city to look on Shabbos the same as it does on an ordinary weekday. The answer, he said — “and I am sure of it — is ‘No.’”
United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Mozes spoke in the Knesset in support of Saar, who has come under attack in the secular media for his forthright defense of Shabbos observance.
Regarding the defiant businesses, Rabbi Mozes said, “When it comes to Shabbos, there is no law, and it becomes clear that their respect for the law is selective.”