MK Gilad Kariv, stop pushing your Kotel agenda – opinion

On Rosh Hodesh Heshvan a month ago, Gilad Kariv, the former head of the Israeli reform movement who is now a member of the Knesset, crossed a red line by cynically taking advantage of his parliamentary immunity to break into the women’s section of the Kotel and deliver a Torah scroll to Women of the Wall.

This time, on Rosh Hodesh Kislev, when Women of the Wall staged another media spectacle with a march from the Dung Gate to where Kotel’s security is located (about 300 meters away) with dozens of empty Sefer Torah mantles, one more time. , MK Kariv promised to be available to promote these goals. Only the participation of President Isaac Herzog prevented a nasty showdown.

No matter how many times Mujeres del Muro flout their feminist agenda, this group of 30-40 women (which usually also includes a foreign delegation or a group of teenagers to shore up their numbers) is nothing more than a front for the political aspirations of the states. United. Israeli reform movement. And the abuse they pour out on the Western Wall, the most sacred site accessible to the Jewish people and the thousands of faithful there, is nothing more than seizing the opportunity to politicize religion.

In an interview with the media, Anna Kislanski, incoming executive director of the Israeli reform movement and Kariv’s surrogate, shared that she uses an office combined with those of Women of the Wall president Anat Hoffman. This, of course, is not surprising when you consider that Hoffman, in addition to her duties as president of Women of the Wall, also heads the advocacy and legal arm of the reform movement: the Israel Center for Religious Action.

Until a few months ago, on an average Rosh Hodesh, Kariv was satisfied standing in the back, watching the monthly Women of the Wall performance, occasionally arguing with some of the regular attendees at the Kotel, or giving a talk to a group of visitors arriving by bus to reinforce WoW attendance. .

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).

But since joining the Knesset, Kariv has taken center stage for his own political gain and to promote the Kotel partition plan. Not satisfied with the existing egalitarian plaza, usually empty, he is determined to create an architectural monstrosity of two equal Kotel entrances and plazas to showcase the egalitarian status of the reform movement.

However, Kariv has a problem. According to the new CEO’s admissions, the reform movement has only 10,000 members in Israel. And secular Israelis just aren’t interested. So progressive movements on both sides of the ocean have invented a narrative about Kotel regulations causing a rift between Israel and Diaspora Jews.

EXCEPT THAT IT’S NOT TRUE. Anyone who knows anything about diaspora communities knows that the vast majority of American Jews, outside of orthodoxy, care no less about Kotel plaza prayer standards. The recent Pew study revealed that 85% of Reform Jews in the US do not attend synagogue services at home more than 1-2 times a year and do not belong to a synagogue. Due to this lack of attendance, the Reform and Conservative movements have closed 20% and 30% (respectively) of their synagogues since 2001. More than half of non-Orthodox American Jews have never set foot in Israel.

Yet this narrative also serves progressive American leaders. Conservative and reform movements are disappearing. According to the same Pew report from earlier this year, while 70% of older Jews (ages 65 and older) identify with either movement, only a third of their grandchildren (ages 18-29) do. . More than 40% of young American Jews do not identify with any branch of Judaism, and many see themselves as ethnic or cultural Jews, but profess no religion.

So with dwindling numbers and no prospects, American liberal rabbis have decided to mark new ground in Israel and what better way to do so than to establish their credentials as a full-blown Jewish movement at the Kotel. It does not matter that the existing egalitarian square is empty. Never mind that the majority of Jews in Israel and the diaspora are not interested in these changes. Never mind that his antics deeply offend the millions of flesh-and-blood worshipers who view (and use) the Kotel as their spiritual home.

Gilad Kariv, Anat Hoffman and their colleagues are determined to impose their agenda on all of us. This brings us back to feminism.

In feminist circles there is much talk about the “culture of rape”: the social attitudes of privileged men, who feel justified and able to impose their wishes on women simply because they are stronger (also in non-literal meanings). It would be difficult to find a more blatant example of “rape culture” than a privileged social servant, like Kariv, who abuses his parliamentary immunity to force his political agendas and preferences on the thousands of traditional women, who gather to pray in the Western Wall every month.

This is part of the course for a small group of progressive leaders, who feel empowered to use the power, money, and friendly media attention to force their narratives and agendas into public perception for three decades.

They can win the battle and divide the Kotel, but in the end they will lose the war. Since 1967, millions of Jews have been voting with their feet to pray according to the thousand-year-old prayer tradition at the Kotel. And in all likelihood, they will continue to do so for decades to come.

The writer is the Israeli director of Am Echad, an organization dedicated to strengthening the connection between Israel and Diaspora Jews.

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