MKs slam colleagues who joined Women of the Wall

Dr. Aliza Lavie is "shocked" fellow female Knesset members wore tallitot, says MKs must serve as an "example for obeying the law."

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March 12, 2013 17:25
3 minute read.
Women of the Wall 521

Women of the Wall 521. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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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.”

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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 concerned.

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.”

In 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.

The 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.

The site has not been adequately upgraded, however, and is not available in the evenings.

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.

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