Representatives in Jerusalem's municipality will create the "Lobby for a Free Jerusalem," which will fight budgets the municipality allocates for the benefit of the city's religious population.
Next week, representatives Yosi Havilio and Laura Wharton will meet with additional activists, and together they will form a plan of action "for the benefit" of the secular community.
A notice advertising the event reads, "Does it bother you when another secular preschool closes for the sake of a haredi preschool? Does it annoy you that the property tax money is used to fund religious events, but not activities on Shabbat (the Sabbath)? Does it make you mad to see streets blocked on Shabbat, when in the past they were open?"
The political event was scheduled to take place in the Hamifal building, which is municipal property used only by those requesting it for the purposes of culture and art. Following a query by Israel National News - Arutz Sheva to the Jerusalem municipality, the organizers of the event were forced to move it to a different location.
Shai Glick, Director General of B'tsalmo, said, "I praise the cancellation of this event on municipal property intended for culture and art. Can anyone imagine an announcement reading, 'Does it bother you to hear that another secular Jewish preschool has become a Palestinian Arab preschool?' Of course not."
"Even more than that, I am sure that the Council member from Meretz, Mrs. Laura Wharton, and the Deputy Mayor Yosi Havilio would be the first people to come out against such a racist text. But to write the same thing about haredim - that is okay? The B'tsalmo organization will not allow municipal properties to be used illegally to provide a platform for inciting, racist events which smell of hatred."
Havilio said, "Yehonatan, hello. The event will not take place at Hamifal, because it is a municipal property, but rather at a different location. An announcement regarding the location will be made in the coming days. This is not an ant-haredi event but an event which is intended to ensure the preservation of Jerusalem as liberal, pluralist, and open to everyone. You are invited to the event."
Wharton said, "I, my friend Yosi Havilio, and many people in the city wish to ensure the rights of the wide, pluralist, and important population in the city. We are not acting out of feelings of 'anti' but out of a desire to advance those dear people who work and live in this city, who are also deserving of investments, support, and benefits from their property taxes. In recent years, the budgets for the haredi community and especially for haredi businessmen have grown in a disproportionate fashion: The budget for religious culture, for instance, has grown 120% in the past five years. At the end of the day, among adult residents of the city, haredim make up less than 25%. We are only asking for a more fair division of the municipality's resources."
"Regarding the event: Yes, we will gather and begin to operate a lobby for the important public we represent. We wanted to gather at Hamifal but the moment we heard that there was opposition, and despite the fact that legally there does not seem to me to be any problem, we decided to change the location. Hamifal is an amazing project and important for the city's culture and we did not want to drag this place into the center of a stupid and unnecessary argument."