Security guards restrain Reform rabbis from entering the Western Wall complex on November 16th..
(photo credit: ISRAEL MOVEMENT FOR REFORM AND PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM)
Shas MK Yinon Azoulai issued a tirade against progressive Jews from the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, and postulated that Reform and Conservative demands for egalitarian prayer rights at the Western Wall were responsible for the earthquake Israel experienced on Wednesday morning.
An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale struck northern Israel shortly before 5:00 a.m. No damages or casualties were reported.
Speaking from the podium during a motion to the agenda, Azoulai, said non-Orthodox Jews were not Jewish, and that they should spend the money they invest in Israel on building another “Western Wall” in the US.
“Today we heard that there was some kind of earthquake, maybe we should engage in some introspection that this earthquake was because someone here is trying to harm that which is holy to us?” said Azouali.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has over the last few days been advancing plans to renovate the egalitarian prayer section at the southern end of the Western Wall, which has generated intense opposition from hardline national-religious and haredi elements.
“Listen to our pain, they are not Jews… To whom is the prime minister giving? To those who go against us in all different types of organizations,” asking why Netanyahu cannot identify the “catastrophe” of upgrade to the egalitarian section at the Western Wall, or of “the Women of Dispute,” meaning the Women of the Wall prayer rights group and progressive Jews.
“What do you [progressive Jews] have to do with the ancient stones of the Western Wall? I suggest to you a proposal, that you take your money that you invest in the State of Israel and build yourselves another Western Wall in the US,” he said derisively.
Azoulai, who became an MK in March, made similar comments during a Knesset committee hearing in May, when he said that non-Orthodox Jews were not part of the Jewish people.
His sentiments reflect not only the severe animus of many haredi politicians to non-Orthodox Jews but also those of his father, Religious Services Minister David Azoulai, whose seat in Knesset he inherited when his father stepped down as an MK earlier this year due to poor health.
The senior Azoulai claimed in 2015 that Reform Jews were not Jewish since they do not follow Jewish law, He also described non-Orthodox denominations as “people who try and falsify” the Jewish religion.