Knesset Committee Discusses Discrimination against Shomer Shabbos Athletes

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soccThe Knesset Sport & Culture Committee on Tuesday, 20 Tammuz discussed the ongoing discrimination against frum Israelis wishing to participate in athletics in Israel. MK (Likud) Miki Zohar is pushing a bill that seeks to prevent religious discrimination for persons wishing to participate in sporting competitions in Israel.

He calls the current reality in Israel “secular coercion”, explaining if one does not wish to participate in a Shabbos sporting event one has no one to speak to towards ending this unacceptable reality. “How can it be that such a person cannot be Shomer Shabbos in Israel” asked Zohar.

“I am a parliamentarian and therefore my colleagues and I have the tools to bring about the type of nation we would like to live in and work towards this goal” stated Zohar and that means the Shomer Shabbos tzibur must be able to hold on to this value without having to face secular coercion” Zohar added.

Committee Chairman (Shas) Yaakov Margi added “What right do we have to rob athletes of their day of rest? It is unacceptable that our nation has so many protests and festivals on the day of rest of one type or another but when it comes to sporting competitions, we are righteous. We wave the flag of inclusion but this does not exists regarding Sporting Association and the world of sports in Israel. We cannot accommodate differences. We are a society that is labeled and perhaps we can reach understandings through dialogue”.

Margi stated the committee would promote dialogue, calling on Shomer Shabbos athletes to stand firm and demand their rights. “We are dismayed to see the effort to exclude the broader public from actualizing their lives, those with a personal gift. The committee will establish subcommittees that will focus on all aspects of sport in the country. Unfortunately I do not see a genuine desire for dialogue in this discussion”.

Zohar’s bill targets sports clubs in the hope of protecting frum athletes who are by and large excluded by the fact so many sporting competitions take place on Friday night. He feels competition must be prohibited from one hour before and after the start and end of Shabbos and Yomtov.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)