MK Amsalem's ugly disdain for Diaspora Jewry - a deeper look
Knesset Internal Affairs Committee Chair stoops even lower!
The Jewish Federations of North America convened their General Assembly earlier this week, and impressed upon Prime Minister Netanyahu how strongly they feel about implementing the Western Wall Agreement that his Government reached with Women of the Wall, and the Reform and Conservative movements. While the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to the agreement, but pleaded to them for patience & silence, MK David Amsalem, a senior member of Netanyahu's Likud party, in his official capacity as Chairman of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, attempted to sabotage the agreement because it offends his religious sentiments. In doing so he had no compunction acknowledging that this would offend American Jewry: “Let them get insulted if they want. There’s nothing wrong with that!”
Women of the Wall Torah reading at Robinson's Arch
Following is a translated radio interview MK Amsalem gave with 'Reshet Bet' on November 8, 2016 in relation to an Internal Affairs Committee tour of the Robinson's Arch section of the Western Wall, following his public proclamation of opposition to the Western Wall Agreement:
Amsalem: A week ago, I saw on television the Reform Jews' provocation at the Western Wall. They brought in a Torah in a demeaning way, they came in a violent spirit, etc...
As is known, the Internal Affairs Committee is entrusted with supervising the Religious Services Ministry and Israel's Police, etc. This is the role we play. Therefore, I think that such an issue, with all respect to the Government, should be brought to the Internal Affairs Committee for debate - to review the "what" and "why" of the matter. Personally, I don't understand "what," "why" they are causing this mayhem. I don't understand the Reform Jews. I don't understand what they want.
Interviewers: They want to prayer there together, according to their customs, and according to their worldviews.
Amsalem: So what then, we should bring every hallucinating sect that wants to pray at the Western Wall there?
Interviewers: Reform and Conservative Jews are a hallucinating sect?!
Amsalem: Certainly. Certainly according to Judaism. What's the question here? Were there Reform Jews even 100 years ago? Were there Conservative Jews? Tomorrow, somebody may visit the Western Wall in a bikini and ask for a section of it; tomorrow the Samaritans may also ask for their share, and then the Karaites, and then another such sect...
Interviewers: It's a fact that this is something that's been accepted, and there is an outline of an agreement... Sharansky and the Prime Minister decided to give...
I don't agree with the Government's decision. I am the Internal Affairs Committee Chairman, not a Government member, and therefore that doesn't interest me.
Amsalem: I don't agree with the Government's decision. I am the Internal Affairs Committee Chairman, not a Government member, and therefore that doesn't interest me. By the way... there may be Government members that are Reform - so what? I approach this as a matter of principle. The religion of Israel is more than 3,500 years old. The Western Wall is where the Jews have been praying the same way for 2,000 years. Reform Judaism began some 100 years ago. Why create a provocation at the holiest place for the Jewish people?
Interviewers: Why initiate this tour in the first place, considering that your opinion was already known?
Amsalem: I have opinions on a large portion of the Committee debates I participate in. By the way, everyone who went on the tour already had a position on the matter, not just me... secondly, to get a sense of it, to see it. I hadn't see the platform [meaning: the wooden platform built for prayer services above the archaeological area]. I was shocked when I saw it. So I think that if the Jewish People, if they were to see and understand what we're talking about, I'm not sure that people would agree and stay calm... The Jewish People have been praying at the Western Wall for more than 2,000 years. In my opinion, you don’t reform religion; you reform income taxes or preserve canning factories...
Interviewers: The question is whether your approach isn't actually helping the Reform Jews. You speak out against this, they fight back; they are the emissaries of millions of people in the USA; and you strengthen them by your fight. Isn't this a strategic mistake?
The Western Wall interests me - not what American Jews do, and not what they would say to the Prime Minister when he visits them.
Amsalem: I don't deal with the world of images and media. This doesn't interest me. The Western Wall interests me - not what American Jews do, and not what they would say to the Prime Minister when he visits them. We have the tradition of Israel. I am not a religious Jew, but I am a very traditional Jew, and this degradation of our tradition pains me. And who is degrading it? Jews. By the way, if one were to think that the Supreme Court could get involved... let's say that tomorrow some 5 or 200 Palestinian women say, "Mr. Court, please intervene. We want a section of al-Aqsa to pray there together with our husbands." Would anyone even consider bring this up? But in Israel when it comes to Jews, everything is permitted. Jews can degrade the tradition of Israel, and the Jewish faith. There's no problem with this, in the name of freedom, pluralism, equality and all sorts of such abstract concepts. Therefore, I think they are provocateurs.
I came to view the plaza. What are they telling there? that they've been praying there since 2013. So I don't understand - if you've already been praying there since 2013, and you have another platform below for 15 years already... what's the problem? I don't understand why they're causing provocation like last week, at the central plaza?
I came to the conclusion - they aren't praying, they don't care about prayers. They want to create a provocation so that more American Jews send them all sorts of checks for all sorts of organizations here.