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Thursday, November 01, 2012 

The row over Modiin's park continues

The fallout over the rift between Modiin and the Illit suburb continues, as now a civil rights group is accusing the mayor of the mainstay of an anti-Haredi bias, even though the mayor of the suburb and some of the residents themselves have blame to shoulder:
Civil rights group ACRI called on Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas to rescind his policy of preventing non-residents from using the city’s main public park during the intermediary days of the Pessah and Succot holidays, as well as during other school vacations.

The restrictions were enacted just before this year’s Succot festival. Park Anabeh in Modi’in is a large, modern expanse containing picnicking areas; an events stage, a small boating lake and an adventure playground.

Although the reason given by the mayor and the municipality for the ban was that the park becomes overcrowded during the holiday seasons, critics accused the mayor of seeking to keep out haredi residents of neighboring Modiin Illit - a purpose built ultra-Orthodox city - who flock to the park at these times.

There are no comparable public facilities to Park Anabeh in Modi’in Illit.
Unfortunately, there's reasons why this happened:
In conversation with The Jerusalem Post during Succot, several city residents on a visit to Park Anabeh, complained that the large numbers of haredi visitors crowded out Modi’in residents. They also reported that the haredim left behind large amounts of rubbish.

Some park visitors claimed that some ultra-Orthodox visitors had requested from other park guests that they dress in a more modest fashion.

Several people in the park also mentioned an incident that occurred during the Pessah holiday earlier this year, in which a presenter of a show that was being staged in the park called on a female volunteer to assist him on stage.

A haredi woman then objected and asked the presenter to choose a male volunteer instead, a request with which the presenter complied.

In a separate incident that further raised inter-communal tensions, Mayor of Modiin Illit Yaakov Gutterman told haredi newspaper Yated Neeman that a new archaeological park in his city, which is yet to open, would only be available to members of the ultra-Orthodox public.

Bibas wrote a letter to Gutterman in response, threatening to bar residents of Modi’in Illit from Park Anabe if Gutterman maintained his stance.
Well see, once again we have here the problem of Haredim trying to manipulate something they don't own into doing their bidding. And what a disgrace - a Haredi woman was the one here to push for this insult to a girl volunteer, though the presenter is no less to blame for caving to her demand when he didn't have to. If she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to watch the show. This is otherwise a public park and not their property to dictate to other visitors how to run their business.

Curiously enough, there was one other possible reason for this:
ACRI noted in its letter that it had also recently written to the Kiryat Ata municipality over its policy of charging non-residents entrance fees to its public park. ACRI said that it suspected the purpose of the policy was to prevent Arab residents of local communities visiting the park.
What if said Arabs are Muslims, and ended up doing worse than the Haredim did? In that case I could probably understand this. That said, even if the Haredim from the Illit suburb were nothing compared to what potential harm Muslims could cause, there's still no justification for their trying to impose their beliefs on non-Haredi visitors to the park, nor for barring non-Haredi residents from the archaeology park in Modiin Illit. A shame that everybody's enjoyment has to be hampered by dragging religion into all this.

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