Stranded in Jerusalem
Photo: Moti Kimchi
Dozens took part in a protest rally held in Jerusalem on the weekend, over Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz' persistent refusal to allow public transportation across the city on Shabbat.
As part of the protest, led by the Hiddush Movement which advocates religious freedoms and equality, and the youth forum Bama, a "stranded tent" was erected in the city's Shlomzion Hamalka Street – one of Jerusalem's busiest streets and the location of many popular restaurants and bars.
There is no Jewish reason to decide for others whether to travel by bus on Shabbat
Protesters claimed that because of the street's nature as a local hotspot, public transportation to the area over the weekend is vital.
Organizers said that "nothing could describe endlessly waiting for a bus on Shabbat like a tent."
The protesters noted that service taxies were available in the none-religious areas of the city in the past. The service took great care to avoid any of the ultra-Orthodox areas of Jerusalem, so as not to infringe on their observance.
Hiddush VP Shahar Ilan said: "Minister Katz, who refuses to allow public transportation on Shabbat is essentially placing young people at risk.
"Those who have means can get by, but those who need public transportation are the poor, the elderly and the young. The Israeli government is selling them to the haredi parties for a few more months in power.
"Social justice can't exist without public transportation on Shabbat," he said.
Tomer Cohen of Bama added: "Today we proved that the free, pluralistic public, in Jerusalem and across Israel, will not rest until it gains the right – perhaps the most basic right of all in a democratic country – freedom of movement over the weekend.
"The transportation minister has the audacity to demand that we favor public transportation, but who would willingly do so if it's out of commission every week?" he concluded.