Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter Launch Time Creates Legal and Religious Issues In Israel

In Israel, the agreement by bookstores to synchronize their launch of J.K. Rowling's newest Harry Potter book with booksellers in the rest of the world has created legal problems. The launch in Israel is to be at 2:01 a.m. Saturday, local time-- during the Jewish Sabbath. However, Israeli law prohibits employers from forcing Jewish employees to work on the Saturday. (Hours of Work and Rest Law, 1951). And, as In Context explains, under Israeli law bookstores in some locations can be open on the Sabbath, while those in other places cannot. According to today's Haaretz, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai has threatened to prosecute and fine any bookstore that opens in violation of the law. Israel's largest bookstore chain, Steimatzky, says it will to go ahead with its planned Friday night celebration in Tel Aviv to launch the new title, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.