Your stand is a bit complex and very interesting. You say that Health Minister Litzman, (editor: who resigned from the government due to the desecration of the Shabbat by state-funded train construction) is completely right. On the other hand, you say that on questions of Shabbat observance of privately owned supermarkets and on public transportation, every community should decide for itself. Please explain the dissonance between Litzman’s stand and your own.
There is dissonance between Israel’s identity as a Jewish state and the need to preserve the almost-absolute liberty of the citizens. Liberty is also a Jewish idea. The State of Israel has to express its Jewishness in everything associated with its official institutions and its state structures – like the train, which, perhaps should not be, but is currently part of the government structure. On the other hand, issues like where there will be open supermarkets on Shabbat should not be decided by the Knesset – the central government – but rather inside the community, in the neighborhood.
Isn’t that what we have now with the status quo? (editor: The arrangement established upon Israel’s founding whereby religious observance in Israel’s public domain would remain as it was then.) There are municipal by-laws and supermarkets in certain communities are open and nevertheless, there is some sort of general Jewish, religious character. That is very close to what is happening now.
From a certain standpoint, it is going in the same direction, but in other ways, not at all and it may even go in the opposite direction. For example The local community is the body that will decide if the gay parade will march through its territory or not. It goes in both directions: Not only deciding whether to open or not but how its character and nature will be in general.
Let us go into detail. An elderly couple who lives in Haifa. They want to travel to their children in Rishon on Shabbat. They do not have a car. They need public transportation on Shabbat. Will they have it?
If you ask me, Zehut is opposed to public transportation on weekdays, as well. The State does not have to transport people. The State has to make it possible for private companies to do it efficiently and inexpensively. And if the State would do so, that couple would have many more inexpensive options, as opposed to today. All of that would be without State intervention. That is actually the great lie. But we are not here to talk about details like transportation, but rather about Israel’s Jewish character. Let us focus on that.
Let us talk about Israel’s Jewish character. The question is why to breach something that has functioned well for decades, since the founding of the State, and to come and say that it is not the role of the Knesset. The status quo has worked not badly at all until now.