… This bill, which aims at banning the use by mosques of public address systems for the daily call to prayer, is a masquerade, which all participants are party to. Nobody really thinks that those who proposed this bill aren’t actually motivated by nationalistic and religious considerations (the bill’s explanatory note states its intention to forbid “the use of PA systems to call worshipers, to convey religious or nationalistic messages, and sometimes even words of incitement”). […]
Ultra-Orthodox circles have established a long record, both in Israel and overseas, of demanding respect for religious freedom whenever challenges to their privileges and rituals are involved. Examples include kosher butchering and circumcision (and metzitza) in countries where these customs have been challenged as inhumane and in conflict with public health and order. Similarly in Israel, claims of religious freedom have been widely made with regard to the mass exemption of yeshiva students from military service, refusal to implement core curricular studies in schools and demands for excessive state subsidies for tens of thousands of non-working yeshiva students. Needless to say, just as with the Muezzin Bill, these demands are not evidence of sincere commitment on their part to universal values of religious freedom and equality.
It is the Litzmans and Deris of the religious Jewish leadership that have never hesitated to deny these very freedoms to fellow Jews and non-Jews whenever they have had the political ability to do so. The recent battle over the Western Wall and the Ritual Bath Law, denying use and freedom of worship to fellow Jews, and Litzman’s quick clarification on the rationale for opposing the Muezzin Bill make it, once again, patently clear.