Mayor of mostly secular Modi'in threatens to close city park to ultra-Orthodox visitors if Modi'in Ilit doesn't reverse decision on national heritage site.
Modi'in Ilit Mayor Yaakov Gutterman's statement that the archeological site in the city will only be open to ultra-Orthodox visitors is drawing fire from the neighboring city of Modi'in.
Modi'in Mayor Haim Bibas threatened Tuesday morning to close his city's central park to ultra-Orthodox visitors if Gutterman doesn't take back his statement to the Haredi newspaper Yated Neeman.
Gutterman said last week that the site believed to have been an agricultural village from the Second Temple period and is currently being developed by the government "will operate according to the doctrines of our forefathers, according to the Jewish historical sources presented by the Bible, the Gemara and ancient Jewish sages only. The site will be open only to the ultra-Orthodox public, which will keep it a proper place for them to visit and connect to their Jewish roots, without the distortions and disruptions of other places, where there is fear of hearing false opinions."
The archeological site, Khirbet Bad-Issa, was proclaimed a national heritage site by the government in 2011.The government announced the site was to serve the ultra-Orthodox community.
In a letter Bibas sent Gutterman Tuesday morning, he wrote: "National heritage sites are places central to the history of the Jewish people and should be open to everyone, whatever their worldview or religious affiliation may be."
"As you know," Bibas wrote. "Two years ago, we inaugurated the Aneba Park in Modi'in – the city's central park. Since it opened, thousands of Modi'in Ilit-Kiryat Sefer residents have visited it, since your city doesn't provide adequate family recreation facilities. Up to now, I have refrained from discriminating between ultra-Orthodox and secular visitors, despite the multitude of petitions by Modi'in residents complaining that the park is being taken from them."
Bibas finished his letter with a threat: "If the municipality you head doesn't reverse its decision and will in fact bar secular visitors, the city of Modi'in will bar residents of your municipality entrance to Aneba Park."