Thursday, June 11, 2009

Holy Parking

So the (new, secular) mayor of Jerusalem, thought he would open some city parking lots on Saturdays. There are a lot of visitors to the city - it's quite a famous place, you see. He would man the lots with "shabbos goys", basically non-Jews that would do the security checks. No money was to change hands, as that would be desanctifying the holy day.

The religious went mad. Last weekend they rioted and blocked the entrance to the parking lots. They swarmed the police and injured a few. They set dumpsters alight and generally acted like a bunch of hooligans. Total nutters.

I remember back in the olden days, when I lived in Jerusalem. They used to protest the opening of the Ramot road on the Shabbat. I remember Reuben and I went to go watch one Saturday afternoon. I have this vivid picture in my mind of a sea of black coats and a single policeman. They would slowly approach him and he would run at them and stamp his foot, and they would all scramble back a dozen or so yards. Again and again the same scene repeated. One policemen in front of hundreds of black coated ultra-orthodox.

It appears that these ultra-orthodox, like other enemies of the state, have grown more sophisticated and less intimidated. The mystique of the all powerful Israeli policeman has been lost through our politician's reticence to enforce laws (especially on settlers). While the army's image has been weakened by intifada and the last few wars. So these guys get away with believing the rule of law is defined purely by what their Rabbi says.

Worst of all, now it seems Nir Barekat, the Jerusalem mayor, is going to fold and close the parking lots because of these fanatics. Just two days back he swore they would stay open through the summer. Don't even think of getting me started on the outcry over the pride march tomorrow.

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