Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ACRI Slams Modi'in: Stop illegal policies against Chareidim.

From Israel's Association for Civil Rights in Israel:
Press Release
October 30, 2012

ACRI to Modi'in Municipality: Restricting Entrance to Public Parks is Illegal Municipality's 'overcrowding' rationale suspected to be a pretext for denying entry to Orthodox Jews from Modi'in Illit

Today (October 30) the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent a letter to the Mayor of Modi'in, Haim Bibas, demanding that that he terminate the city's policy of restricting entrance to the Anava River Public Park during parts of the year.

The municipality of Modi'in-Macabim-Reut enacted the policy – which prohibits nonresidents from entering the park during the summer months and on holidays - prior to the festival of Sukkot in October. Despite the official rationale for the policy – overcrowding in the park – the municipality's actions raise a suspicion that its true purpose is to exclude Orthodox Jews from neighboring Modi'in Illit.

This is not the first time a local authority has tried to restrict entry to public parks. In 2000, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense filed a petition against the Ra'anana municipality after it began charging nonresidents an entrance fee at one if its city parks. Following the petition, the national law was amended and a clear ban on charging entrance fees to public parks was established. Further discussions in the Knesset emphasized that the purpose of the amendment was to regulate access to public parks for the enjoyment and benefit of the public at large.

Some months ago, ACRI wrote a letter to the municipality of Kiryat Ata, after learning that the city was charging nonresidents entrance fees at its public park. In that case, the suspected purpose of the policy was to prevent the entrance of Arabs from nearby communities.

The letter to Mayor Bibas, written by ACRI Chief Legal Counsel Dan Yakir, warns that the restriction is illegal; it violates the right to equality, and in practice constitutes prohibited discrimination against a religious group. Although the municipality procured a legal opinion from Professor Ariel Bendor that sanctions the policy, ACRI disagrees with the opinion's conclusions.

Attorney Dan Yakir: "The fact that the park was built on municipal land does not mean that the municipality can do whatever it wants with it. Public space, such as this park, is designated for the public at large. It is unacceptable for local authorities to attempt to restrict the public's ability to access parks under their control. "
As Israel's front-running Hellenist city, Modi'in is slammed from an unlikely direction - Israel's Civil Right's organization, ACRI.  Granted ACRI doesn't have the best objective agenda, and their voice was loudly missing when it came the Disengagement in 2005,  but they are to be praised for doing the right thing when it comes to Modi'in.

And while we're on the topic of the Hellenist city, a friend of mine started getting Halloween orders for food...from multiple residents of...Modi'in.  I guess caroling isn't enough.

However, one must keep in mind that living in Modi'in is still far better according to the Talmud and the Rambam, than living in the holy cities of Brooklyn, Monsey or Lakewood.

Update: For those not familiar with the story in Modi'in, you can read about it over at AddeRabbi's blog, a resident of Modi'in. (here and here)

Quote from AddeRabbi:

For those not following along at home, my fair hometown of Modiin has barred non-residents from visiting its spacious and beautiful Anabe Park during vacations and on Hol Ha-Mo'ed. This is a result of a pishing contest between Modiin's Mayor Haim Bibas and Modi'in Ilit's Mayor Yaakov Guterman, plus it plays into a strong anti-Haredi (and occasionally anti-religious) sentiment amongst a minority of Modiin residents (a political party, Modiin Hofshit, ran on an anti-religious platform and got only a few hundred votes for city council).

The new policy upsets me greatly, and I wanted to see how the policy was being implemented generally. As I got in line to enter the park, I could see that a few cars ahead of me the line was being held up by a Haredi family insisting on entering the park. Since the new regulations allow for Modiin residents to bring guests, I went and invited the family in as my guests. After a while, the guards let us in on that basis. Serendipitously, a reporter from Haaretz was there at the time. Her report is
here (Hebrew) and here (English - paywall). The paragraphs relevant to my story are:
As the argument continued, a Modi’in resident, Eli Fischer, decided to see whether everyone was really being barred from the park, or only those in ultra-Orthodox garb.
“He’s my guest, let him in,” said Fischer, in an effort to help Tirnauer, at first without success. The guards checked Fischer’s identity card, and then started questioning Tirnauer and his family about their relationship. One of the ushers called a municipal security guard to help.
“He’s not really your guest, he’s here to make a provocation,” the security guard told Fischer. But Fischer persisted after the getting approval of his superiors the security guard allowed Fischer and his new acquaintances into the park.
“The park is empty, and I wanted to see what would happen, since according to the instructions that were publicized, [the park] is reserved for Modi’in residents and their guests,” said Fischer. “I don’t know why they were questioning me.”
The municipality said that the confrontation involving Tirnauer and Fischer was the first to occur since the instructions were issued, claiming it was a planned provocation by the media.
“During all the days that entrance to the park was restricted, there wasn’t a single incident, except for one in which a visitor who isn’t a city resident came with a reporter to create a provocation and get a headline,” the municipality said.
 The Hebrew version also includes a Gemara that I cited for the benefit of the reporter, from Sukkah 27b: "All Israel are fit to dwell in a single sukkah."

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Anonymous said...

Jameel -
As a religious resident of Modiin, I think you are not telling the whole story.
True - that ACRI put this letter to the municipality. However, the municipality did this for a couple of reasons.
A couple of months ago - during an open air festival - some girls were on stage either singing or dancing. Some chareidim there took offence and either made the singers stop or made a big fuss (I might be mistaken - but thats the Gist of the story).
This got the goat of the Modiin residents who complained (rightly so). Next, the meyer of Modiin Illit decided to ban non-residents entry to a new archiological park. This, according to the newspapers was the final straw, which is why Bibas put the ban in place in Modiin. I wonder if ACRI will send the same letter to Modiin Illit - and also if they do, whether Modiin Illit will act on it ? Anyway, Personally, I don't believe either person is behaving correctly, and that some of this behavior could have been avoided had the chareidim been more tolerant to chiloni lifestyles in an envrironment that is not their own. It is not a question of the chiloni person adjusting to the chareidi lifestyle - since the original event was in a non-chareidi city. I think this is the true meaning of a chillul hashem - and the chareidim instead of trying to bridge the gap between dati and non dati people - are in fact enlarging it.
Just my 2 cents....

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous; Just updated the post with more info from the viewpoint of a Modiin resident.

FaygaDevora said...

Actually, at the Anabe performance, ONE WOMAN objected to the girl being called the stage and the person running the performance (with no connection to Modiin other than the fact that he was paid for the performance) agreed. It was an unfortunate incident. According to an article by Modiin News, the Mayor of Modiin Ilit never banned non-residents. Anyway, even if they did, grow up Bibas!

Religion and State in Israel said...

Do you have the original link to the actual press release (not the Facebook page)?


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Joel: Here it is in Hebrew.


Religion and State in Israel said...

just found it.


Steven - Modiin said...

Haim Bibas has cemented his place for certain re-election following his move to ban non residents from entering the park.

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