Sir, – Douglas Bloomfield, (“Whose Israel is this?”
Washington Watch, Comment and Features, May 19), used the disgraceful behavior
of a few men toward the Women of the Wall as the jumping-off point for a broad
attack on religious life in Israel. However, even his diatribe, he did not say
what the accompanying photo and caption indicated, namely that the young haredi
women who came to the Kotel to pray were violent and needed to be held back by
police. If the Kotel is to be open to all, it certainly should be open to young
women who pray everyday, not just when the cameras are present.
Sir, – Yossi Klein Halevi, after mildly chastising the rioting
haredi “youths” and Women For the Wall, puts the onus on the Women of the Wall
to prevent further violence (“Time to end the disgrace at the Wall,” iEngage,
Observations, May 17).
He calls the judgment of the court “ill-timed.” In
what respect? The court heard the evidence, reviewed it, and made a decision.
That’s the task they are mandated to do.
He says the WoW should “suspend”
their activities until the plan of Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky is
adopted. If the Knesset acts with their usual speed, the grandchildren of the
WoW might gain the benefit of the court’s decision. After all, the Knesset
hasn’t even appointed the usual five committees necessary to examine the
Democracies flourish under the rule of law. The courts
have rendered the verdict. No further delay is necessary. Act on
Sir, – In your eagerness to to show support for
the Women of the Wall and Judge Sobel’s ruling that they have the right to pray
at the Kotel with prayer shawls and tefillin, you began your May 13 editorial
“Compromise and prayer” with the following triumphant declaration: “Friday, May
10, Rosh Hodesh Sivan, will go down in history as a major victory for those who
value freedom of religious expression in Israel.”
I and thousands upon
thousands of others like me do not see the matter quite the same way. For us,
the entire issue has nothing at all to do with freedom of religious
These women were never prevented from opening prayer halls,
synagogues or temples that espouse and promote their religious philosophy. Not
satisfied with that, they decided to force themselves and their heterodox
practices upon those whom they knew would be offended and could be counted on to
resist – providing them with the PR they were seeking.
effect of Judge Sobel’s ruling is to have the state unilaterally abolish freedom
of religious expression for the countless thousands of Jews who come daily to
the Kotel to pray in the time-honored tradition of Jews through the ages. The
secular court has no role to play in establishing the validity of one order of
religious service or another.
Above all, it is important to face the
facts honestly. The Women of the Wall and the supporters of Sobel’s ruling to
permit so-called pluralistic Jewish practices at the Kotel do not constitute a
community drawn together by strong faith commitments.
Rather, it is a
community of political interests and nefarious objectives that mocks the piety
of the overwhelming number of Jews who truly sense the holiness of the
Sir, – It was refreshing reading the
point of view of the thousands of women that disagreed with the Women of the
Wall movement who insist on praying monthly at the Western Wall with tallit and
tefillin and loud services (“The other Women of the Wall,” Comment and Features,
The reason for the status quo was because the Western Wall is at
the holiest site of Judaism and as such, to enable maximum access, the
universally kosher standard of separate men and women sections with out-loud
women’s payers, due to the Orthodox issue of kol isha, was enacted. If the Women
of the Wall truly wish to pray in tallit and tefillin because they are very
religiously inspired, apparently more than thousands of haredi women, then one
wonders if they also keep Shabbat and pray at other times as well. Because if
not then their behavior would appear merely to be an act of anti-religious
protest at Judaism’s holiest site and as such in the Jewish state should be
Sir, – There are dozens of shuls, synagogues,
designated and set aside places to pray all over Jerusalem and the rest of the
country. It is not incumbent upon any worshiper, in fact, to pray in any of
It is time for this unseemly and demeaning haggle over the Western
Wall to come to an end.
The outer wall of the long-gone Temple should
have its status changed to either historical site or one of the Wonders of the
World. It can be a place to visit by tourists and residents alike, but with
limited access. These visitors can be allowed in with proper identification, on
a limited basis, but not for prayers or bar mitzvot, as they have abused those
privileges up to now and made a circus of the place.
Since no one can
change the mindset of any of the protagonists, none of them should have access
to the wall as they now do. God does not care how or where we pray to
“British-funded J’lem institute slammed for backing BDS” (May 16) is fictional.
Unlike Jonny Paul and Benjamin Weinthal, the authors of the article, I attended
Suzanne Morrison’s talk at the Kenyon Institute on March 6. It was a legitimate
(and interesting) academic presentation, based on the speaker’s doctoral
Morrison focused on “The Emergence of the
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement” (which was the title of her talk),
and offered no personal opinion regarding the BDS movement. The claim that she
or the Kenyon Institute supported the BDS movement is utterly
Equally untrue is the claim that the Kenyon Institute has been
“slammed” for hosting Morrison’s talk. Only the authors of The Jerusalem Post
article, who obviously consider any mention of the BDS movement as an anti-
Israel expression, have attempted to censure legitimate academic discourse. Such
an attempt deserves condemnation.
University of Oxford
The writer is a visiting
research fellow at the Kenyon Institute
Sir, – I read with dismay your piece
entitled, “British-funded J’lem institute slammed for backing BDS.” I attended
the lecture which lies at the heart of the grossly inaccurate accusations made
in the article. The talk presented an academic paper entitled, “The emergence of
the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement,” based on research for a PhD at
the London School of Economics. The presentation concerned itself with a history
of the BDS movement and an analysis of its origins. Not a single word in
endorsement of the movement was uttered either by the guest speaker or by
representatives of the Kenyon Institute.
Either the authors of the piece
are incapable of distinguishing between academic inquiry and political
campaigning, or they have willfully distorted the truth in a disgraceful attempt
to stifle legitimate academic discussion of these issues. In either case,
reporting of this kind deserves our condemnation and I expect the Post to issue
a thorough retraction of the falsehoods contained in the article.
The writer is a PhD candidate at the University of London
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