I’ve been meaning to write about the Shabbat Parking Lot affair for some time now, here are a collection of thoughts:
- It goes without saying that the violent demonstrations in recent weeks have been a terrible Chilul Shabbat and Chilul HaShem and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It is hard to imagine that the organizers of these demonstrations was really concerned about Chilul Shabbat, it seems that it is more of a political power play between the Eida Charadit and other forces in the Charedi community.
- It was very encouraging to see the Rabbi Harowitz’s stand against these demonstrations, but I couldn’t help wondering where were the public comments from the Charedi leadership in Israel. Why could there not have been a public statement from Rav Elyshiv, Rav Sheinberg, or the Gerer Rebbe condemning the terrible public Chilul Shabbat caused by these demonstrations.
- It is somewhat encouraging to see that this week there was an organized peaceful demonstration by those opposed to the parking lot including Tehillim and other Tfillot. This is the Torah-true approach to expressing one’s anger over events. I hope that this method of demonstration will replace the terrible destructive events that have taken place on Shabbat (and during the week). (although i fear that this is wishful thinking)
My own feelings about the parking lot (not that they are relevant) is that I think that the mayor did the correct thing by addressing a potentially dangerous situation (cars parked illegally around the Old City) and tried to find a solution which minimized Chilul Shabbat (free parking operated by a non-Jew).
I think that it is important that all Israelis feel a connection to Jerusalem, including those who live outside the city and are not Shomer Shabbat. If these Jews decide to spend their Shabbat in Jerusalem instead of a movie or at the beach, this is a positive thing.
I felt uncomfortable with the original proposal to open the municipal Safra parking lot as this parking lot is very close to Mea Sharim, which would disturb residents of that neighbourhood, and more importantly I think that public institutions (National bus company, airline, government institutions, municipalities etc), should publicy observe Shabbat, this is part of the Jewish character of the country.
The Karta parking lot is a better solution as it is further from the Charedi neighbourhoods, closer to the Old City, and is not part of the Municipality building.
There is one other issue that has bothered me. There was a terrible story of an ABC Reporter who claims that she was spat on when she took out her tape recorder to record he demonstrations on Shabbat.
This is a terrible Chilul HaShem and inexcusable behaviour. There is never a reason to spit at a person or treat her in this manner. Not Ever.
That said, I couldn’t help wondering about what type of training or assistance reporters get when they are posted to Israel. In spite of the fact that she was going to report on the Charedi Shabbat demonstrations, she didn’t have much clue of what she was getting herself into (other than to “dress conservatively”). She didn’t know the area at all and accidentally walked up the wrong street. She didn’t know that a tape recorder would be problematic at a demonstration against Chilul Shabbat, and she didn’t speak a word of Hebrew. Nor did she think that she should find someone to go with her who may have been able to give her a bit of insight into what was going on.
Basically, someone who has no knowledge about a situation felt authorised to report on it to a major news network like ABC. Is this the type of “in-depth” reporting that major news channels provide us with?
Unfortunately, when it comes to events in Israel, most cab-drivers would be far more qualified to report on local events than the hundred of journalists stationed in this country.