Tel Aviv restaurant (illustration)
Tel Aviv restaurant (illustration)ISTOCK

The chairman of the Jewish Home faction in Tel Aviv, Haim Goren, and the owner of the Tony Vespa pizzeria, Leon Alkalai, clashed with Anat Davidov and Yinon Magal on 103 FM Radio following Goren's request to close restaurants and entertainment venues on Tisha B'Av as they are closed on Shabbat and Yom Kippur.

The fast of Tisha B'Av commemorates the destruction of the two Holy Temples and the Jewish commonwealths by the Babylonian and Roman empires, as well as numerous other tragedies and massacres throughout Jewish history, such as the expulsion of the Jews of Spain in 1492.

Haim Goren's call to close the restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues on Tisha B'Av is consistent with Israeli law.

In recent years, the trend of opening businesses has expanded in Tisha B'Av as business owners prefer to absorb the municipality's fine instead of honoring this important day. They are breaking the law. People who call to uphold the law cannot discriminate between one law and another law," Goren explained.

"I do not think that there is religious coercion on the subject," he stressed, "I do not force anyone to pray, go to the synagogue and listen to the Book of Lamentations, but only to honor a day in the Jewish tradition. In another hundred years, the Holocaust will also become a distant memory, and I would not want to have pubs and bars open on Holocaust Remembrance Day."

Chef Alkalai disagreed with Gonen. "The law should be changed, and businesses should be allowed to be open on Tisha B'Av. I believe that the State of Israel should separate religion from state. We live in the only country in the Western world that has no separation between religion and state. My people have the right to do what they want. What starts with one fast will soon spread to other fasts. Soon they will demand that we observe the Fast of Gedaliah."

Alkalai said, "My restaurant is closed on Holocaust Memorial Day, on Memorial Day, both on Rosh Hashanah and Passover eve, and I'm tired of people who go to a restaurant on Passover and ask if the calamari is flour." He turned to Gonen: "You talk to me about laws? Let's talk about settling in occupied territory. Does international law not apply to you?"

Goren replied: "I do not want to hurt you and I do not want to disturb you. In Tel Aviv, the secular public does not feel discriminated against and there is nothing of the sort. The fast of Tisha B'Av is a day that marks the great disasters that have taken place in our nation. It commemorates the deaths of millions of Jews. We stop everything and respect them for one day and remember where we came from and where we are going. We did not land in the State of Israel yesterday, because we have history here. The minimum is to respect this."

"The public in Tel Aviv does not feel discriminated against? What about the public transportation on Shabbat?" Alkalai asked. "There is a clear discrimination here that is directed towards a clear direction of a halachic state, and I can spread to you a list of many things that need to be respected here and do not occur. This day of your own free will, I have a problem with you forcing me to respect it against my will. I respect your desire to eat kosher but you do not respect my desire not to eat kosher. All the hotels, all the airlines in Israel are kosher - why do I have to suffer this food?"