The attacks against anyone who doesn’t think the way the haredi minority think, or walk the extremely narrow path, they walk, is becoming an everyday occurrence. The haredi leadership is turning up the heat politically to a rolling boil on the two fronts where pluralism was making inroads, the Kotel front and the Who’s a Jew front.
Last week, a new bill was proposed by the Ministry of the Interior that would reject all state conversions performed in Israel outside the state sanctioned haredi conversions. People that converted in these private courts would not be allowed Israel citizenship, thus altering the law of return.
The proposed law would be a way to get back the power the haredim lost when the March 2016 Supreme court ruling that allowed private Orthodox conversions. After that ruling, the Reform and Masorti/Conservative movements petitioned the court to allow their in Israel conversions too. A hearing was held on the 16th. The new bill that was proposed would circumvent these proceedings.
The bill was widely criticized by the liberal movements because it will allow the rabbinate to decide who is a Jew and would deny aliyah to converts, as well as harm the thousands of Russian olim who are currently in religious limbo.
The second attack is on the Kotel front. With the courts leaning to protecting women’s civil rights at the Kotel, the haredim are fighting back hard. On May, 15, MK David Amsalem presented a bill that would apply the law regarding Holy places to the entire Kotel area – including the southern wall that was given to the liberal movements for prayer and is the site that the Kotel agreement slated to be the new third section of the Kotel for pluralistic prayer – and to officially declare the Kotel as an Orthodox synagogue under the rule of the Western Wall rabbi. This proposal was added to the Shas bill of December 2016.
MK Amsalem has already expressed his desire to have the Kotel agreement cancelled by threatening an “explosive potential” if it is implemented and his anti-Reform remarks have added to the current tensions.
This morning, the biennial convention of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (Reform) held an adult bat mitzvah for 13 South American women who were not allowed to read Torah when they were 13, in the Eretz Yisrael, egalitarian section. Before the last aliyah, the Torah’s were marched, 300 people strong, into the Kotel plaza to conclude the reading. They were not stopped. It’s possible that the government did not want a riot at the Kotel just before the American visit.
Ten additional bnai mitzvah took place at the egalitarian section this morning. Pluralism is on a roll. If you put us to the flame, we only get tougher.