Most want minimarkets, public transport on Shabbat

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Large majorities of the Jewish public support allowing minimarkets to open and the operation of public transport on Shabbat, a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute has found.

The findings come against the background of fierce political battles over Shabbat in the publice domain and the recently approved "minimarkets" legislation passed at the behest of the Haredi political parties which gives the interior minister the power to stop municipa authoritis from allowing minimarkets to open on the Sabbath.

The survey, part of the IDI's monthly Peace Index poll, also found that a majority of the public does not want the Haredi political parties in the government, and that a significant majority supports the defense minister's censure of rabbis, including the chief rabbi, who have spoken out strongly against religious women serving in the IDF.

According to the poll, 6% of the Jewish public thinks minimarkets should be allowed to open on Shabbat; 64% said public transportation should be provided on Shabbat, 69% thinks cafes should be able to open; 68% thinks cinemas should be able to open ; and 57% thinks supermarkets should be able to open.

In other findings, the poll demonstrated that only 27% of the Jewish public wants a government coalition with Haredi political parties United Torah Judaism and Shas, while 53% prefer a government without them.

And 70% of the Jewish public says it disagrees with a claim frequently heard in the ultra-Orthodox world that young men who study in yeshiva defend Israel, in a metaphysical manner, as much as young men who serve in the army.

The poll also addressed opinions on the recent comments made by prominenet National Religious rabbis against mixed-gender service and young religious women serving in the IDF. 

Last month, senior National LReligious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner told yeshiva students not to enlist in the army at present, due to (erroneous) claims that enlisted soldiers cannot request to serve in gender-separate units.

Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu then publicly supported Aviner and called on IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-General Gadi Eisenkot to resign over the issue of mixed-gender service. Aviner was in turn given backing by Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman condemned the comments of all three rabbis and banned them from participating in IDF ceremonies.

According to the IDI poll, 61% of the Jewish public supports Liberman's position against Yosef and Aviner, and 57% support his stance against Eliyahu.

The survey was conducted by telephone and Internet on January 30-31 by the Midgam Research Institute on a sample of 600 respondents - 500 Jews and 100 Arabs - aged 18 and over, with a margin of error of 4.1%

Published in the Jerusalem Post