A new poll conducted by the prestigious Rafi Smith Institute for the Hiddush religious freedom advocacy organization has found that a large majority of Israelis of all political stripes want at least some public transportation on Shabbat – despite Likud Party Transportation Minister's claim to the contrary.
Overwhelming Majority Of Israelis Want Public Transportation On Shabbat, New Poll Finds
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A new poll conducted by the prestigious Rafi Smith Institute for the Hiddush religious freedom advocacy organization has found that a large majority of Israelis want at least some public transportation on Shabbat, the Jerusalem Post reported.
• 52% agreed that “public transportation should be operated at a decreased level” on Shabbat, but that it should operate.
• 22% agreed that public transportation should be operated at the same level and frequency as weekdays.
• 16% said the current situation, in which almost no public transportation is available on Shabbat, should be left as is.
• 10% said they want to stop all public transportation on Shabbat everywhere in the country.
Broken down by political affiliation, the poll looks like this:
• 72% of Likud voters favored some level of public transport on Shabbat.
• 100% of the left-wing secular Meretz Party’s voters also want public transportation on Shabbat as do 96% of the left-centrist Zionist Union Party’s voters, 96% of the right-centrist Yesh Atid Party’s voters, and 89% of the centrist Kulanu Party’s voters.
• 92% of the right-wing heavily Russian and secular Yisrael Beiteinu Party’s voters, also want public transportation on Shabbat.
• However, only 47% of the right-wing Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi voters and 2% of haredi voters want public transportation on Shabbat.
• 74% of all respondents agreed that “the struggle for public transport on Shabbat is a broad public campaign, that crosses political lines of Left and Right” – meaning they rejected the recent assertion made by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling right-wing Likud Party) that the attempt by Israelis to get public transportation on Shabbat represented a left-wing political endeavor. Even 70% of Likud’s own voters rejected Katz’s claim.
The head of Hiddush, Reform rabbi and attorney Uri Regev, noted the disproportionate burden on the poor, elderly and disadvantaged caused by the Shabbat public transportation ban.
“[The fight for public transportation on Shabbat] is a fight to lift the siege that descends with Shabbat on the weaker sectors of society such as the poor, the elderly, and youth. Shabbat pleasures for the secular and traditional community includes the possibility of not being in prison at home. The battlefront of the haredi establishment, Minister Katz and other secular politicians does not only not strengthen the Jewish identity of the state but generates hatred for Judaism among the public,” Regev reportedly said.
Public transportation is banned in most of the country, except for Haifa, because of a pre-state deal made with haredi leaders by David Ben Gurion, who later became Israel's first prime minister. Ben Gurion made the deal in part because of the fear that right-wing Zionist Revisionists (the precursor to today's Likud Party) headed by Menachem Begin might launch a civil war for control of the state once centrist and leftist Zionists like Ben Gurion declared its formation. Ben Gurion and others feared that haredim, who were sympathetic to Begin, would join him.