Let’s chalk it up to the learning curve.As the head of the Masorti Movement in Israel for years, Dr. Yizhar Hess has tried to promote the Conservative Movement’s alternative to the Western Wall – the prayer site at Robinson’s Arch. In his new role as the vice chair of the World Zionist Organization, Hess has a golden opportunity to create more unity, understanding and connection in the Jewish world. So let’s give him the benefit of the doubt over his disappointing op-ed last week, decrying an NIS 22-million allocation to the Western Wall. As a high-ranking official of the Jewish people’s elected body, Hess should know that the Western Wall plaza welcomes more than 10 million visitors a year. It’s a must on the itinerary of every tourist and dignitary visiting the country. It is also a spiritual home to millions of Israelis and Jews, who come here in their moments of joy and sorrow, to express gratitude or unburden a heavy heart. NIS 22 million over a five-year period (something Hess omitted in his op-ed) is money well spent for the welfare of millions of tourists and locals.And obviously the Western Wall allocation is not an exception. At the height of the depression, US president Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the New Deal as an investment into infrastructure, which ultimately contributed to American recovery. Similarly, the Israeli government realized that while COVID-19 has brought about a major crisis, the induced slowdown could be leveraged into an opportunity to upgrade many areas of the economy.And so over the past several months, the government has channeled billions of shekels into development in every industry imaginable. The list is long, but here are just a few examples. The government has allocated more than NIS 1 billion into upgrading public transportation. The Tourism Ministry has given the go-ahead for the construction of more than 1,300 new hotel rooms in Eilat and injected NIS 35 million into the city’s cultural scene. To address the rise in the use of the Internet, the government approved a country-wide internet infrastructure upgrade and an NIS 3 billion investment into hi-tech and digital services.On the human resources side, an allocation of NIS 150 million will fund the training of 500 new engineers each year.And the list goes on. But you don’t need to search through government records with a magnifying glass. A short drive around Jerusalem is enough to witness the extent of this investment. Every major street is dug up, new highways are going up and new light rail lines are being installed. Is it any wonder then that the Western Wall is getting a face-lift of its own. So what made Hess take the time out of his busy schedule to write this op-ed? He decries the government’s refusal to invest in the Robinson’s Arch prayer space, yet fails to mention that the government has done so twice in the past 15 years. The original alternative plaza was built in 2003 to provide a space for the Women of the Wall and bring peace back to the Western Wall. The space was revamped again in 2013 by the then-minister Naftali Bennett, only to be scorned by Women of the Wall as a “sunbathing deck.” Hess’s Conservative Movement has taken the space under its wings, yet it has remained largely empty and unused, aside from the occasional bar mitzvah during the tourist season. In 2018, the Antiquities Authority published a tender for a whooping NIS 11 million to revamp the orphaned prayer space for the third time. It is understandable that Hess and his colleagues at the Reform and Conservative movements are disappointed that their efforts to attract visitors to the alternative prayer site have proved fruitless. The Jewish people have been voting with their collective feet, consistently coming to pray at the original Western Wall plaza and upholding the 1,500-year-old prayer tradition. No amount of PR or additional funding will change this fact. Instead of calling the government out for not wasting more money on a white elephant, perhaps Hess would do well to direct his energies to making sure every Jew has what he or she needs at the places of prayer that they really visit.Yes, this crisis calls on all of us to do all that we can to bring more unity to the Jewish people. It will not be done through scathing op-eds or power-games at Judaism’s holiest site. It will be done by all of us coming around our shared sacred and national values. NIS 22 million is a small price to pay for that.The writer is the founder of Women For the Wall, a grassroots organization for preserving the sanctity of the Western Wall.