Restaurant (illustrative)
Restaurant (illustrative)iStock

Several Tel Aviv restaurateurs have announced that they will open business as usual Wednesday evening, the eve of Tisha B'Av, as a sign of protest against the judicial reform legislation recently passed by the Knesset.

Chef Yuval Ben-Neria was quoted in Calcalist as saying, "I had no hesitation, we are open all year round, celebrating the free market, so in the evening we will open the restaurants as usual. In light of the events of the last few days, I feel it is my moral duty to remain loyal to my clientele, who has been fighting fiercely for 30 weeks in the streets of Tel Aviv, right in front of my restaurant, about the nature of the country and our right to live in a democratic and liberal country."

"This is a very tough time for all of us, both as citizens and as business owners in an industry that has been dramatically affected by the demonstrations and the spirit of disenfranchisement in which the public lives. Therefore, if there is one thing I feel I must do it is stay true to myself. And today more than ever. I also call on our guests to come and express their protest in this way."

"On this occasion, I call on Mayor Huldai to keep Tel Aviv free and not to impose fines on businesses that will open. I also call on him to consider businesses that have been at the forefront of the war on democracy for 30 weeks or more and to immediately give concessions on property tax and other payments. We are the front line of the struggle and are entitled to the support of the municipality that will allow us to go through this crisis together."

Chef Haim Cohen commented: "We open in the evening not to mock or upset anyone. I don't think there is a protest here. The restaurants have suffered in the last six months, suffering a decrease in work and losses of 35% on average, and there are some that are more. We are already seeing cafes that are closing or changing owners, and this is the real reason. It is no longer possible to work alone and no one is pleased to turn to the state for help, but I will still do it after the recess in the Knesset on behalf of the restaurants."

The director of the Government Advertising Bureau, Moriah Shalom, responded on Facebook, "Well done! You upset the religious, you showed them who is in charge. 'We will feed our nation even on Tisha B'Av,' cries the chef because this is the real protest! What do you want your children to grow up to be? What is their history? What is their legacy? Who exactly are you trying to hurt?"

According to the 1998 law prohibiting the opening of recreational facilities on Tisha B'Av, and the amendment from 2002, restaurants, bars, and any place defined as a restaurant will be closed on the eve of Tisha B'Av, and business owners who do not obey the law can be fined.

"Notwithstanding what is stated in any law, a local authority shall be authorized to establish a bylaw that prohibits the holding of public recreational activities on the day of mourning or the opening of restaurants on the night of the day of mourning, from the beginning of mourning until sunrise the next day," the law states.

The law even gives the local authorities the authority to appoint inspectors who will be in charge of enforcing the law and will fine those who violate it NIS 2,600.