Sunday, July 24, 2016

Open letter to Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Areyh Stern

21 July 2016                                                                                                                        טו  תמוז  תשע"ו

Dear Chief Rabbi Stern,

I was pleased to learn that you had been able to persuade the Mayor of Jerusalem, Barkat, that it was an affront for Gay Parade flags to be displayed in Rechov King George outside the Great Synagogue.

However, I am concerned that you appear to be unable/unwilling to persuade the Mayor to enforce the State Law that requires Rechov King George to be closed during the periods of Tefillah in both the Great Synagogue and Yeshurun Central Zionist Synagogue on Shabbat and Chagim. I have sent you numerous requests since your appointment but have never received any form of response.

I understand that the Jerusalem Police are closing the roads commencing at 14.30 till the end of the parade after 18.00 including streets on the route of the Gay Parade March including Rechov King George and Keren Hayasod as well as adjacent streets.  This period of closure will result in traffic chaos in the city as well as the disruption of public transport.  Furthermore, numerous law enforcement personnel will be employed including police, border guards and the shabak – at great public expense – to ensure these people are permitted to openly express in public, their free will. 

However, when it comes to Shabbat and Chagim, it would appear that the respective authorities refuse to openly allow expressions of Orthodox Judaism in public by closing Rechov King George from Kikar Paris to Rechov Maalot, as laid down in the State Law.  It should be pointed out that the disruption on Shabbat and Chagim would not affect public transport on these streets since, fortunately, public transport currently does not run on Shabbat and Chagim.  To enforce the Law would not require the use of the mammoth number of Law Enforcement officials as the Parade.

It appears that the Jerusalem Mayor and Police are far more sensitive to offending Muslims than they are with Jews.  On Yom Yerushalaim the Annual Yom Yerushalaim Flag March through the Old City via Shaar Shechem was initially refused by the Jerusalem Police, on the grounds that it would offend the sensitivities of the Muslims prior to the start of Ramadan.  Eventually a compromise was reached whereby the march was permitted but all participants had to be through Shaar Shechem by 18.15.  If the authorities can deem it their prerogative to enforce such draconian measures on the expression of Jewish Nationalist pride, surely it is time that the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem ensured that the Law Enforcement Authorities and the Municipality were sensitive to the sanctity of Shabbat and Chagim so as not to offend the observant Jews who reside in the area adjacent to the Great and Yeshurun Synagogues.