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Israel Is on Its Way to Become a Country of City-states

13 2 0
11.12.2019

After the public transportation system began operating on the weekend in a number of cities in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, we began to hear the word revolution being uttered more and more. Nonetheless, it is possible that even the people who have used this word may not have internalized just how dramatic a change is taking place.

It is obvious that the ability to be mobile on Shabbat in an urban space without a car is a refreshing change in its own right, and certainly as far as the underprivileged are concerned. The bite taken out of the obsolete “status quo” on matters of religion and state, which has been outdated for a long time, can provide a bit of comfort – but the story is much bigger than this.

Shifting the focus campaign for Shabbat transportation from the national to the municipal level has the potential to change the character of the entire country. This is multi-stage process – and public transportation is just one link – in which the issues of religion and state are privatized locally. It points up how Israel is gradually being divided into two separate countries with diverging public spheres.

The cities have entered the stepped into the fray over providing public transportation on Shabbat after having success in other fights in the religion-state realm. In July 2017, Givatayim banned religious Zionist nonprofit organizations from entering nonreligious state schools, and by so doing the city put an end in its midst to the creeping growth of religious influence in the schools that was being encouraged by the education ministry.

In addition, the city of Herzliya instituted regulations in September 2017, which increased oversight of those same nonprofit organizations in its schools. At the same time, Tel Aviv city hall decided to stop supporting projects said to be aimed at reinforcing Jewish identity.

In December 2017, before the passage of the “grocery stores” law in the Knesset, cities such as Rishon Letzion, Givatayim, Modi’in, Holon and Herzliya passed bylaws........

© Haaretz