Thursday, August 14, 2014

City inspectors don't need a day of rest מפקחי העירייה אינם צריכים יום שבת

It’s reached the absurd: Interior Minister Gideon Saar declares: “The principle of a weekly day of rest is a fundamental one in our country.” What happened, Mr. Saar? City inspectors don’t get to rest on Saturday?  Ah. I see. The day of rest only applies if you’re trying to sell goods. So it’s OK for city employees to work on Saturday, and I’m sure the citizens of Tel Aviv, who pay the inspectors’ salaries, think this situation makes total sense. Especially the 20,000 (if not more) who aren’t even Jewish.

More absurdity: The Forum of Minimarket Owners petitioned the court to prohibit the supermarkets’ opening on Saturday because “it hurts their [small guys’] business.” Well guess what, small guys: I feel for ya, but hitchhiking on religious coercion is nothing less than disingenuous. If your business is hurting because you choose not to open on Saturday, or late at night, or any other time, because you value your private life more, it’s not cricket to turn to the courts to solve your problem.

You want to be with your family on Saturdays? I applaud that, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too at the expense of the rest of us. Many of us give up comfort or convenience in favor of values. I respect modest dress as well, but does that mean I should subsidize air conditioning in all buildings where modestly dressed people live and work? It’s called owning your choices.

Minister Saar claims that businesses opening on Saturday “encourages crime”. Well, yeah, but only if you make Saturday retail a crime. I’m wondering if the measly fines collected on Saturdays even cover the inspectors’ salaries. If they don’t then Tel Aviv-Jaffa residents are being ripped off by City Hall, pure and simple. And if ripping off your constituency isn't a crime, what is?

Koby Bremer, a minimarket owner who represented the Forum’s court petition, warned that the customers pay for stores opening on Saturday in the form of higher prices. Well welcome to the world of retail, Koby. Nice of you to look out for my pocketbook, but as a customer, it’s my prerogative to pay for convenience. That’s why they’re called “convenience stores”.

An Orthodox minimarket owner lamented, “Next thing you know, we’ll be working on Yom Kippur.” Well, no. You won’t be, but what’s the problem with, say, cashier Suheila Kchile working on Yom Kippur? It’s just another day to her, as it is to the 25% of Israelis who aren’t Jewish, and the 20% of Israeli Jews who don’t observe Yom Kippur.

When will we learn? If observing Judaism has any inherent value, it shouldn’t need to be legislated. Certainly not on my dime.

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