Religion Magazine

Was Litzman's Bluff Called?

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
The issue of work on the rail lines on Shabbos continues to be a big issue. Just when we got distracted by other issues, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman issued a threat to the government. Last Wednesday Litzman threatened the government coalition that he would withdraw from the coalition if any work would be done on the lines this Shabbos.
The heads of the coalition went into overdrive to resolve this and came up with a compromise that was publicly agreed upon by Litzman. They agreed that this Shabbos all work would be done by non-Jews, and for future work the issue would be revisited and resolved calmly.
Was Litzman threatenign on behalf of the entire UTJ or just for himself (and perhaps MK Eichler who sort of followed suit)? Was Litzman bluffing or did he intend to carry out his threat should it bee discovered that Jews worked on Shabbos on the rail lines?
Right after Shabbos the news reports all claimed that Litzman was basically saved. He was taken seriously and only non-Jewish workers were employed on Shabbos, except for one Jewish worker who was a sub-contractor. Even though there was that one Jewish guy, he was basically off the hook. That is, until Minister Chaim Katz, responsible for the maintenance work on the train lines, went on the radio this morning saying that only non-Jews (except for one Jew) were used in the work in the Dimona station. Elsewhere in the country Jews were working on the train lines as always, and if Israel wants to continue to have trains this will have to continue to be the case.
So far not a peep from Litzman. Did Chaim Katz call his bluff? Is Katz looking to force Litzman's hand? He had basically given Litzman a ladder to climb down from with everyone thinking that non-Jews had been used, but then Katz speaks up and puts Litzman back in the bind. Will Litzman lose his status as the national sweetheart over this and just be seen as a regular politician - whether he pulls out or if he backs down from his threat?
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