It is necessary to reach a compromise in the Kotel conflict – editorial

Members of Women of the Wall (WoW) faced violent opposition when they attempted to bring Torah scrolls to the Western Wall last Friday. It was not the first time, and once again it showed how the lack of commitment continues to fan the flames of struggle within the Jewish people.

For years, there have been moderate voices wanting a compromise on the issue of egalitarian prayer at the Kotel. However, the extremists have preferred the path of violent confrontation.

Unfortunately, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, while serving as prime minister for more than a decade, never implemented a major compromise that was made. Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) extremists were tied too tightly over the years, a policy that has continued to this day.

Before Friday’s incident, Netanyahu retweeted a call from Shas leader Arye Deri to confront the scheduled Women of the Wall prayer service at the Kotel. On Thursday afternoon, Deri tweeted that he and 10 other MPs would go to the wall on Friday morning and called on “anyone for whom the Western Wall is important to pray with us that, God forbid, this holy place will not be desecrated. “

Such statements have fueled hatred and attacks against WoW and other groups demanding equal access and rights at the Western Wall.

Members of the Women of the Wall movement celebrate Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, on November 5, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI / FLASH90).

“The Kotel framework was approved in a government led by Netanyahu and then frozen when Netanyahu relented. [Shas leader] Arye Deri and [United Torah Judaism chairman Yaakov] Litzman, ”Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday. “It is a reasonable solution: now is the time to implement it.”

Unfortunately, the haredi parties in the Knesset continue to oppose the agreement.

“The reform and the conservatives are sticking their helmets in the holy of holies of the Jewish people and are taking hold of the Western Wall,” UTJ said in a statement. “We will protect, without compromise, the Western Wall and its sanctity, and we will not allow anyone to desecrate it,” the party said in October. The use of terms like “helmets” is an example of incitement against the other Jewish movements.

Another example was provided on Saturday night, when Rabbi Meir Mazuz, who is affiliated with Shas, said that Reform Jews destroy Judaism. The Russian-Israelis, he added, were heretics.

The best way to stop the incitement is for the government to show these people that their hateful words will not work and that Israel will be the Jewish state by allowing all Jews the right to practice Judaism here as they see fit.

In August, reports said the government intends to promote the Western Wall agreement for a state-recognized non-Orthodox prayer section at the holy site. He delayed doing a lot about it while trying to pass a budget. But now that there is a budget, the excuses may end. Time to invest in the new section.

“Once the budget is approved, I think we should start to see progress, which should be early November at the beginning of the winter session, and we should see the agreement go into effect,” said MK Alon Tal of Azul and White in time.

Well, “after the budget has come,” which means now is the time for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to deliver on their promise to open the Western Wall to pluralistic prayer. Now, after the government approved a two-year budget last week, it is the right time to reintroduce the compromise and pass it within the cabinet.

Surveys conducted in the past by The Jerusalem Post They have shown broad support for the egalitarian prayer plaza at the Kotel. A 2016 poll found that 61% of Israelis were in favor of creating such a site and 39% were against it, and there was no difference in support between men and women. While 83% of Orthodox respondents oppose the site’s creation, 82% of secular Israelis and 59% of self-defining traditional support it.

The time has come to confront the extremists and show that a compromise can be reached. This is a long journey, but as a diverse Jewish people, we can provide space for everyone.

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