A Likud lawmaker’s contentious proposal to ban commercial activity on the Sabbath has ensnared an Israeli pop star in the public debate.
Ninet Tayeb, the rock singer who first shot to fame a decade ago after winning an American Idol-style reality television show, angrily rebuffed Likud MK Miki Zohar after the latter claimed that she is a supporter of his controversial piece of legislation.
Tayeb’s ascent to stardom was considered particularly noteworthy given her modest background - she grew up in Kiryat Gat, a rural development town in the northern Negev.
Zohar made the suggestion during an appearance on a satirical program on Channel 10, which prompted Tayeb to categorically deny it on her Facebook page.
“If there’s one thing that really infuriates me, it’s lies, particularly by people who claim to know me and what I’m thinking and speak on my behalf,” Tayeb wrote.
“Dearest Miki Zohar, the fact that you are from [my hometown of] Kiryat Gat doesn’t automatically make me an enthusiastic supporter of yours,” she wrote. “And, just for the record, I’m not. My god is not your god, and I am asking that you refrain from speaking in my name on any panel. With thanks, the girl from Kiryat Gat.”
Zohar responded to Tayeb, implicitly criticizing her for leaving Kiryat Gat and relocating to Tel Aviv.
“Hi, Ninet, it’s me, Miki, the boy who was born in Kiryat Gat and never left it,” the lawmaker wrote. “I see you’ve taken it quite hard the fact that I thought you were in favor of a day of rest for everyone. I understand that it’s not the most popular position in your milieu to be a believer [in God], but that’s alright. It’s your right to conduct your life differently since we are in a democratic country, even though it’s a Jewish and a democratic country.”
“By the way, it’s important to emphasize that all of us have the same God, the one who gave us this land, and everyone believes in it in his or her own way,” he wrote. “I’m one of those that is proud of their belief.”
The lawmaker’s response apparently angered Tayeb further.
“The nerve of you!” she wrote. “Who are you to decide what constitutes belief and who believes [in God] more or less?”
“My belief in God is clean and complete, and I sleep well at night. I am against the imposition of religion, and I don’t think I have the right to decide who will and will not keep the Sabbath. Whoever wants to rest on the Sabbath is welcome to do so, and whoever doesn’t, won’t. The right to choose belongs to us all, and coercion only pushes people further away from each other, the opposite of what you claim to represent.”
Zohar presented a bill banning commercial activity on Shabbat to the Knesset Wednesday, even after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervened to postpone the planned vote following threats by Kulanu and Likud MKs not to support the legislation.
The prime minister requested on Wednesday morning that Zohar withdraw the bill and reach agreements within the coalition on the terms of the proposed law before bringing it to a vote.
Zohar said he had “decided to accede to Netanyahu’s request,” and withdrew the bill from the agenda “following the prime minister’s request and that of our important coalition partner, Kulanu.”
He presented the bill in the plenum and expressed confidence that it would have passed, but said he respected the prime minister’s request.