Meretz brings Shabbat protest bus to Jerusalem

Dozens ride against lack of public transportation on Shabbat during Meretz party protest called “Shabbat of Freedom.”

Meretz protesters 370 (photo credit: Alon Hooter)
Meretz protesters 370
(photo credit: Alon Hooter)
Dozens of people demonstrated Saturday against the lack of public transportation in Jerusalem on Shabbat during a Meretz party protest called “Shabbat of Freedom.”
Meretz has brought their Shabbat bus to other major cities across the country including Tel Aviv, Kfar Saba, Holon, Herzilya and Hod Hasharon to protest for more public transportation options on Shabbat.
“The Transportation Ministry needs to liberate themselves from the religious coercion and allow organized public transportation also on the weekends,” said Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, as he joined the Shabbat bus in the capital on Saturday. “This is an essential service that is very important for both the environmental and social reasons: allowing anyone who has no car or cannot drive to get around, and minimizing the traffic on the roads.”
On Saturday, Meretz’s free Shabbat bus picked up passengers in the popular student neighborhoods of Kiryat Hayovel, Beit Hakerem, Rehavia and Nahlaot, and drove them to the few bars in the city’s center that are open on Shabbat. Deputy Mayor Pepe Alalu (Meretz) joined in the event for a discussion on the city’s struggles.
Haredi city council members in Jerusalem are opposed to street parties on Shabbat, which they claim are a provocation.
“The beauty of Jerusalem is honoring the status quo,” said city council member Shlomo Rosenstein of the Yahadut Hatorah party earlier this summer in response to a street party planned by activist organization Ruah Hadasha. “No group can force the city to be its own way, not the haredim who don’t want anyone to drive on Shabbat, and not the secular residents.”
Meretz representatives in Tel Aviv, Herzilya, Ra’anana and Kfar Saba have petitioned their respective cities for public transportation on Shabbat, something the Transportation Ministry has refused to grant. Meretz petitioned the High Court of Justice to overturn the ministry’s decision and is currently awaiting a response from the ministry.