Israeli civil rights group protests ‘anti-Haredi’ policy in Modi’in

(JTA) — An Israeli civil rights group urged the mayor of Modi’in to revoke a regulation which it says is aimed at keeping ultra-Orthodox families out of a local park.

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The Association for Civil Rights in Israel asked Haim Bibas in a letter to scrap a recent regulation which says only residents may enter the central city’s Anava Park during the High Holidays and the summer vacation.

“Though the official reason given to this policy is security concerns, the manner in which the city has applied this policy indicates its main purpose is to make the park inaccessible to Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] visitor from the neighboring town of Upper Modi’in,” ACRI wrote in a statement earlier this week.

The municipality of Modi’in — a predominantly-secular municipality of about 80,000 residents, many of whom are immigrants from English-speaking countries – has cited the legal opinion of Prof. Ariel Bendor of Bar Ilan University, who said the measure was legal.

Dan Yakir, ACRI’s legal consultant, said it was “illegal, unequal and constitutes a de facto form of discrimination against religious group.”   

Yakir added: “The fact that the park is on municipal territory does not mean the municipality is free to do with it as it pleases. Public property is just that – it is intended for the public and its welfare.”

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