Crashes expected at Western Wall after Netanyahu retweet

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu again tweeted a call from Shas leader Arye Deri to thwart the scheduled Women of the Wall prayer service at the Kotel on Friday, sparking outrage.

Now there is likely to be violence, particularly from Orthodox protesters, at the holy site in the wake of Deri’s comments and Netanyahu’s support.

On Thursday afternoon, Deri tweeted that he and 10 other MPs would go to the Kotel on Friday morning and called “anyone for whom the Western Wall is important to pray with us that, God forbid, this holy place will not be desecrated. “

Netanyahu retweeted Deri’s tweet, prompting condemnation from reformist and Masorti (conservative) leaders in Israel, and the Woman of the Wall.

At the same time, Mordechai Eliav, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which manages the site and is also responsible for security there, wrote a letter to the Jerusalem district police commander Doron Turgeman, telling him that in light of the thousands of protesters expected at the site and the participation of deputies, the organization was not responsible for ensuring public order at the site on Friday morning.

Women of the Wall praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, August 9, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM / THE JERUSALEM POST)

As at the beginning of every Jewish month, Women of the Wall will hold a prayer service at the Western Wall on Friday morning.

The reform leader and Labor MP, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, has said that he will once again use his parliamentary immunity to carry a Torah scroll inside the holy place for the group, as he has done in recent months.

Regulations promulgated by the administrator of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, prevent someone from bringing a Torah scroll, a regulation he passed specifically to prevent the Women of the Wall from reading the Torah in their services.

This month, ultra-Orthodox MPs, led by Deri, are apparently trying to use their parliamentary immunity to prevent Kariv from bringing a Torah to the site.

Kariv condemned Netanyahu for his retweet, calling him “a hypocrite” and hinted that the former prime minister had previously spoken disparagingly about haredi behavior at the Western Wall.

The head of the Reform Movement in Israel, Anna Kislanski, said the organization “is hearing unprecedented efforts to incite political and orthodox forces against the faithful who want to pray according to their own custom at the Western Wall.

“The one who has gone further, as usual, is the opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who knows well that the majority of the Jewish people are associated with the liberal Jewish denominations but nevertheless decides to continue his destructive approach. that he started as prime minister when he trampled on the Western Wall agreement that he himself initiated, due to ultra-Orthodox pressure, ”Kislanski said.

The head of the Masorti Movement in Israel, Rakefet Ginsburg, called for immediate implementation of the Kotel accord, which Netanyahu originally endorsed, which would create a state-recognized egalitarian prayer section at the southern end of the Western Wall.

Ginsburg said recent violence at the site in previous months during Women of the Wall services should have raised a red flag for decision-makers, and said the Western Wall agreement must be implemented to prevent violence and even the shedding of blood there.

“We must not wait for a violent incident to take place to draw the necessary lessons. This is our duty as public leaders to work for dialogue, and I ask all leaders of all denominations to join this call to find a solution and calm the atmosphere, ”said Ginsburg.

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