A prominent member of the Women of the Wall activist group was the victim of a
vandalism attack early Monday morning in protest of her activities for the
pluralistic prayer rights group.
Vandals spray-painted various threats and
insults on the apartment front door and building stairwell of Peggy Cidor, a
board member of the group for 15 years as well as a long-time reporter for The
The graffiti included the term “Torah Tag,” imitating a
vandalism campaign of far-right settler activists who have frequently
perpetrated graffiti attacks under the banner of “Price Tag.” Such settler
attacks are designed as retribution for either perceived anti-settlement
activity by government authorities, or Palestinian attacks.
messages read: “You are wicked. Peggy, your time is over. Jerusalem is holy and
the Kotel is holy. Women of the Wall are disgusting villains. Peggy, you
are the first.”
Speaking to the Post on Monday, Cidor said that she
believed the vandalism was carried out by impressionable ultra-Orthodox
“I have no proof, but my first suspicion would be that it was
youngsters or teenagers from yeshiva,” she said. “Who else has any interest in
doing such a thing to me unless they’re in ultra-Orthodox circles? That’s my
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that the
vandalism was a targeted attack and that police have launched a formal
“A member of Women of the Wall has been targeted,” he
said. “A police investigation is underway. No arrests have been made yet, but we
are investigating two suspects believed to be involved in the
Cidor said she blames haredi leadership for provoking such
“The problem for me isn’t the graffiti – it’s that youngsters
in [ultra-Orthodox] yeshivas are being told by rabbis that [Women of the Wall
activity] is a desecration, so what do you expect them to do?”
“The problem is
the leadership,” she said, adding that she hoped the attack could serve as a
starting point for constructive dialogue between the opposing
“What happened is a crisis, and I believe that a crisis is the
best opportunity to stop and think over what happened and to create a
“There are many ways to express disagreements, and this should
not be one of them,” she said. “I expect leaders from the haredi community to
wake up and say this shouldn’t happen again.”
Cidor said this was the
first time she has been targeted in such an attack but that she was not
“I’m not afraid, and even if I was, I would try to fight [the
fear] from the inside, because fear is not the answer.
“I refuse to be
worried about this – that would be caving in. I will be careful, but I refuse to
be dragged into fear. I believe the haredim act this way because they are
afraid, and fear is a bad adviser.”
She added that Jerusalem Mayor Nir
Barkat sent her a personal message Monday from overseas to express his support
and condemn the vandalism, and wrote that he would call her to discuss the
Barkat also issued a statement strongly condemning the
“The way to resolve disputes is not through violence, but with
discourse and dialogue, and finding a compromise that will address the needs of
all parties,” he said.
“Violent acts should be prosecuted to the fullest
extent of the law.”
Cidor said the Jerusalem Municipality sent workers
over Monday afternoon to remove the graffiti from her door.
statement on Facebook, Women of the Wall called on the rabbis and haredi
leadership to condemn the vandalism and to end all incitement against the
“The real problem facing Israeli society is not what they did but
what the leadership of the haredi public will do now. The writing is on the
wall,” said the group.
Meretz MK Michal Rozin, who has participated in
several of the group’s prayer services at the Western Wall, condemned the
vandalism, calling it a “direct result of the wild incitement of haredi members
of Knesset and communal leaders.”
In a statement to the press, Roizin
said that the attack “crossed the line” and called on the haredi political and
communal leadership to publicly condemn the attack and to call for such
incidents to stop.
MKs from United Torah Judaism were involved in
organizing a demonstration against the Women of the Wall earlier this month at
the Western Wall that turned violent, with various objects thrown at the female
worshipers during their prayer service.
Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel
Rabinowitz issued a statement strongly condemning the graffiti
“This is not the path of the Torah. ‘Its ways are pleasant and
all its pathways are for peace,’” the rabbi said, quoting the book of
He added that he has “warned against the lighting of fires and
hatred,” and that he prayed that the downward spiral could be halted and a
solution found so that “the Western Wall will remain a holy place that unites
people, not one that creates dispute.”
The Women of the Wall has been
waging a sustained campaign for equal prayer rights at the Kotel for over 23
Last month, the Jerusalem District Court upheld an earlier
decision of the magistrate’s court that women who wear prayer shawls (“tallitot”
in Hebrew) at the Western Wall Plaza are not contravening “local custom” or
causing a public disturbance and therefore should not be arrested.
Agency chairman Natan Sharansky is currently devising a plan to create an
egalitarian prayer section at the site as a long-term solution for people
wishing to pray there in a non-Orthodox format.
On Monday, Sharansky met
with the Council of the Chief Rabbinate and presented the details of his plan to
the assembled rabbis.
In a press statement, a spokesman for the council
said that the body would wait until all details of the plan were finalized
before taking a position on the provisions of Sharansky’s program.
statement added that the rabbis see the activities of the Women of the Wall as
Rabinowitz, who was also at the meeting, opined that it
would be possible to come to an agreement with the Reform and Conservative
movements in Israel on the issue, but labeled the Women of the Wall as “a
militant and extremist faction with whom it is hard to enter into a dialogue.”
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!