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.

Read more at Ynet

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

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security