Yaakov Ahimeir
Yaakov Ahimeirself

Israel Prize laureate Yaakov Ahimeir responds strongly to the initiative led by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) to annul the Chametz law.

Ahimeir, a veteran of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Tweeted: "I am not observant, but to propose a law in the middle of Passover to annul the Chametz law, as MK Zandberg suggests, reveals human, Jewish insensitivity. Shame on the suggestion."

The Chametz Law states that during Passover, "business owners shall not publicly display a chametz product for sale or consumption." Knesset Member Zandberg argued that this is an unnecessary law that was passed in the 1980s and has no justification in a democratic state.

"Israel is not a halakhic state," she said. "Anyone who is interested in abstaining from buying and eating chametz may do so, but this should not be demanded by means of legislation - this is not the purpose of the law in the State of Israel. Anyone who wanted to avoid eating chametz on Passover did so successfully even before the enactment of the law in 1986 and can do so even after it is canceled."

"In practice, the law has become a dead letter, and in recent years there has been an attempt to revive it artificially, as part of the radicalization and religion that a minority in Israeli society is trying to dictate, in effect a religious coercion law enacted as a result of a struggle for power and not due to a Jewish custom."

MK Zandberg said that "the decision to eat chametz is personal, and the legislature can not intervene in it by imposing restrictions and threatening criminal sanctions."

The law is one of a small number of legislative decisions that are meant to make it obvious in the public arena that Israel is a Jewish state. Closing restaurants on the eve of Tisha B'Av is another. None of them affects personal decisions, such as whether to eat chametz on Passover or refrain from fasting on the 9th of Av.