Several MKs, including Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid, have criticized the
participation of their Knesset colleagues in Tuesday’s Women of the Wall prayer
service at the Western Wall.
Lavie, author of A Jewish Woman's Prayer
Book, said the attendance of MKs Stav Shaffir, Tamar Zandberg and Michal Roisin
at the service sends a message to the Israeli public that “Supreme Court rulings
and police decisions are merely recommendations.”
Lavie labeled the
participation of her fellow MKs in the service as a blatant violation of a 2003
Supreme Court decision on the matter.
“We as MKs should serve as an
example for obeying the law,” Lavie said in a statement to the press. “I was
shocked to find out this morning that my friends and members of Knesset were
wearing tallitot [prayer shawls] at the Western Wall plaza, especially given my
admiration for their activities.”
The Yesh Atid MK said that she would
continue to work toward a new arrangement to make the holy site accessible for
all, while taking into consideration the sensitivities of all
Likud MK Miri Regev also weighed in on the controversy,
calling the attendance of MKs Shaffir and Zandberg “a provocation” that does not
advance the public conversation.
“These anarchistic actions have for some
time turned into a national sport among the extreme Left in Israel,” Regev wrote
on her Facebook page.
“This disgraceful action, which seeks to injure the
Holy of Holies and the feelings of the Jewish people and the Israeli public,
should be denounced,” she declared.
Bayit Yehudi MK Uri Ariel echoed
Lavie’s sentiments regarding the current regulations for the Western Wall plaza,
calling for adherence to the law.
“It is unbelievable that when I went up
to the Temple Mount it was done through strict adherence to the guidelines laid
down by the police, but at the Western Wall plaza we should ignore the
regulations and public order?” said Ariel.
Jewish and non-Muslim visitors
to the Temple Mount are strictly controlled and the police prohibit non-Muslim
prayer and worship at the site.
“The radicalism [of the Women of the
Wall] will lead us all to a ‘civil war,’ God forbid,” he added, saying that
Women of the Wall are “grossly violating the guidelines for behavior at the
site, [and] are injuring the sensitivities of those praying there.”
2003, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Women of the Wall to pray at the
Western Wall according to their custom, but in the same decision ruled that this
right was “not an unlimited right” and that the rights of others who might be
offended by different customs should also be protected, also emphasizing the
importance of maintaining order and preventing violence at the site.
ruling also stipulated that a section of the Western Wall, further south and
separated from the Western Wall Plaza, be designated as a place of prayer for
the group and other, non-Orthodox groups, and that the government must ensure
that the site is upgraded to be an appropriate place of prayer.
has not been adequately upgraded, however, and is not available in the
Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman described the court’s
solution as “separate but equal,” in reference to the segregationist policies
prevalent in the southern United States until the Civil Rights movement of the
1950s and 60s.
The court ruling stated that if these arrangements were
not made within 12 months, the government would be obligated to set up
appropriate arrangements for the group at the Western Wall Plaza.