Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Man Arrested for Disrobing in Protest of the Hametz Ruling


Only in Israel!!

I hope he takes it to the supreme court!



by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

(IsraelNN.com) A 27-year-old man who claims to be a yeshiva student almost completely disrobed in a Bat Yam branch of the non-kosher Tiv Taam supermarket chain Monday in an unusual protest against a Jerusalem Municipal Court ruling allowing the public sale of leavened products during Passover.

With the words "This is not public???" scrawled on his torso, and wearing nothing but a sock to cover his genitals, Arieh Yerushalmi did not resist arrest and may have called the police himself before disrobing near the bread section of the supermarket. He said his provocative act was designed to challenge the court's ruling that the law banning the sale of leavened products (hametz) in public places on Passover does not apply to supermarkets and restaurants, as they are not actually "public."

A Jerusalem Municipal Affairs Court judge ruled over two weeks ago that the sale of hametz inside places of business on Passover does not constitute a violation of the Festival of Matzot (Prohibition of Leaven) Law, 5746-1986, better known as the "Hametz Law". While the Hametz Law explicitly prohibits the display by "business owners" of specific leavened products "in public," Judge Tsaban ruled that "those places of business owned by the defendants - a grocery store, restaurants and a pizzeria – do not fall under the definition of a 'public' place." Therefore, according to the ruling, "their actions are not a violation" of the law.

When police arrived to arrest Yerushalmi for public indecency, he said, "You cannot try me in court because the court ruled this is not a public place."

Responding police officers were not convinced. After arrest, questioning and arraignment, the protest-flasher was sent home and will remain under house arrest for the time being. He may be forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation before trial.

On April 15, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz published his opinion on the Municipal Court's ruling. He affirmed that it is permissible to sell hametz in Israel on Passover, as long as the sale is not carried out in the public eye. The court ruling, he said, was correct in excluding the sale of leavened products inside stores and restaurants from the state ban on such public displays.

In his reaction to the ruling before the Passover holiday, now underway, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski made a public request to local store and restaurant owners not to sell hametz despite the court ruling. Lupolianski told store owners he believes in dialogue, not coercion. He called on businesses to refrain from selling hametz out of respect for Jewish sensitivity.

According to pre-holiday polls, most Israeli Jews, whether defining themselves "religious" or "secular," avoid hametz on Passover.

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