The Latest Attempt to Close Israeli Supermarkets on the Sabbath Is So Much Posturing

Israeli law has long enshrined Shabbat as a national day of rest, restricting commercial activity, public transportation, and the like on the holy day. Now the Knesset is considering a bill—sponsored by Aryeh Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party—that will tighten some of these laws. Shuki Friedman argues against the legislation, popularly known as the “supermarket bill,” even though he does not see it as having a significant effect on religious freedom.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri’s “supermarket bill” is a bluff. Considering the fact that hundreds of thousands of Jews work on Shabbat—many of them illegally—even if the law passes, it won’t make any difference. It will just be another law that won’t be enforced, and commerce and financial activity on Shabbat will keep blooming.

If Deri and the ultra-Orthodox Knesset members really wanted to change this situation, they would finally sit down with the rest of the coalition members, and with opposition members too, and reach a historic compromise with moral validity, . . . which would regularize Shabbat’s nature in the state of Israel. Aggressive coercion [in the form] of another hopeless law will achieve the exact opposite. . . .

The legal status quo with regard to the Sabbath has been maintained for many years. . . . In recent years, however, there has been an ongoing growth in the volume of commercial activity on Shabbat. More supermarkets, shopping malls, and stores have been opening on Shabbat. . . . The result is that for many Jewish workers—about 400,000—Shabbat in Israel is not a day of rest. . . .

The nonenforcement of Shabbat laws is ridiculous both on the national level and on the local level. In 2016, for example, the Labor and Welfare Ministry issued only eleven fines for illegal work on Shabbat. The enforcement isn’t any more significant on the local level, and most authorities simply don’t want to enforce their Shabbat bylaws. Even Deri . . . didn’t lift a finger to increase enforcement when he was authorized to do so when serving as minister of economy. So even if the “supermarkets bill” is passed into law, authorities that decide not to enforce the law will allow the situation to remain as it is today.

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Aryeh Deri, Freedom of Religion, Israel & Zionism, Knesset, Shabbat, Shas

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin