Is the Kotel Exterritorial?

Breaking news (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Breaking news
(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
The Kotel is part of the sovereign state of Israel. These are the facts on the ground whether the UN chooses to accept it or not. At least, that is what I have always been led to believe. So why are the Israeli police ceding responsibility for law enforcement to the Western Wall Heritage foundation? This isn’t Rome where the Vatican is an independent state. This is Israel.

Every month, the violence at the Kotel is growing exponentially as the age of the perpetrators gets younger and younger. Many of the Taliban girls, teens, pre-teens and younger sisters who look around six, conceal their faces as they whistle, yell profanities, spit, and throw hot coffee at us and have now graduated to assaulting our leadership when they can reach them.

One of WoW’s board members asked the police to remove the girls who were disrupting our prayers as well as every other person trying to concentrate on prayer but the police on the scene refused to remove the tormentors. They have given control of law enforcement over to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and they do not attempt stop the girls and the women and men who mentor them. The police’s hands-off decision has allowed the violence to keep growing.

Last week on Rosh Hodesh Tevet, in the middle of Chanukah, we were 200 women praying including 100 mechina (pre-army woman). We davened with kavanah (with faithful intentions) even though there was all that commotion going on around us. We even celebrated an adult bat mitzvah and held a full Torah service.

But the girls did not stop their harassment after the prayers ended. Our prayer leader Tammy Gottleib was leaving with her family when a group of four or five of the girls started yelling and spitting at her. “The young girls who choose to attack me and my family saddens me. There was so much hatred reflected in their eyes that makes them behave in a way that is not Jewish.”

When Leslie Sach’s, WoW’s executive director saw the girls attacking Gottleib, she went over to try to stop it and one of the girls hit her. Sachs said it was very difficult to face someone’s violence when you are used to fighting institutions like the ministry of religion and the Kotel administration. “In this case it was so hard because she is a teenager who is clearly being controlled and manipulated by adults.

The police finally detained the girl after she attacked a third woman who was a guest of the Bat mitzvah woman. Sachs pressed charges against the girl because she was finally identified, but because she is a minor, she was released to her parents and will most likely return next month.

“We face teenagers [every month] whose souls are being poisoned. It is a terrible feeling as a mother, a woman, and a feminist,” Sachs said.

There is no reason for the police to be derelict in their duties to protect WoW on Rosh Hodesh. There is a Supreme Court case to force the police to protect women at the Kotel. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation will not enforce order and go against their own self interests. They believe we will eventually give up and go away. But we’ve been davening at the Kotel for 29 years and we do not intend to stop. It is time for the police to do their job, before someone is seriously injured or killed. Is that what they are waiting for?