Hateful remarks against Reform Judaism and the Kotel agreement continue
US Reform leadership meets with PM Netanyahu
The Prime Minister must either stop the incitement against non-Orthodox Judaism from within his own government or sever his political alliance with those who wage war against world Jewry and block Netanyhu's own public commitment to ensure that all Jews feel at home in Israel.
Jews at the Western Wall, source: Wikipedia
A recent, high level meeting was held on March 12 between PM Netanyahu and the leadership of the American Reform movement, in which the unimplemented Kotel agreement and additional matters of concern were discussed. It was reported that PM Netanyahu said he is committed to finding a solution, and that Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) has been entrusted to renegotiate and find an acceptable new compromise for the Western Wall.
Whereas the media write-up of the meeting described PM Netanyahu as reaffirming his commitment to Kotel compromise, immediately after the media reports, both the PM's office and Minister Hanegbi denied that such a commitment had been made to implement the original Kotel agreement between Netanyahu’s government, the Reform and Conservative movements, and the Women of the Wall.
In as much as the Kotel controversy attracts understandable attention in Diaspora Jewish communities, the issues facing us in the arena of religion and state are broader, such as the right to family, and they impact many more people. Among other concerns is the fact that Israel-Diaspora relationship is being called into question, and more specifically, Israel's openness to the non-Orthodox Jewish streams, which represents the overwhelming majority of world Jewry. In this regard, the media account of the meeting with the leadership of the Reform movement quoted Netanyahu as stating that he opposes the inciting expressions of ultra-Orthodox government Ministers and MKs against Reform Judaism, and that "in the future, if such pronouncements are made, I will denounce them."
We have had occasion to refer to such hateful expressions by key Israeli political figures, and regretfully expect that we will have reason to do so again in the future.
We see the same old game pattern being played out - key Israeli political figures insult and demonize non-Orthodox Judaism, and sometimes Netanyahu expresses benign reservations, but he takes no measures to stop the incitement, nor sanction its proponents.
What is additionally disturbing is that we see the same old game pattern being played out - key Israeli political figures insult and demonize non-Orthodox Judaism, and sometimes Netanyahu expresses benign reservations, but he takes no measures to stop the incitement, nor sanction its proponents. He can face Diaspora Jewish leaders and say with a straight face, saying that he denounces these statements, but everyone realizes that this is just a pro forma disassociation, and nobody is given a compelling reason to refrain from uttering similar or worse slurs in the future. Moreover, it isn't just ultra-Orthodox Ministers and MKs, but also leading members of Netanyhu's own Likud party and the Zionist Orthodox party the Jewish Home. Here are just two recent examples:
Speaking at a public forum in reference to the Kotel compromise, Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home party) expressed his belief that it is both an affirmation of the legitimacy of Reform Judaism and an act of sacrilege against the holy Kotel:
A few months ago, the Netanyahu government decided to approve a new plan that would officially recognize the Reform movement.
Along with several other Ministers, I voted against this decision. It should never be implemented. It is a violation of Israel's sanctity. And with regards to all of the statements that we are hurting Jews around the world, with all respect, and I have respect, and they are absolutely our brothers and sisters, there is no reason to recognize the Reform movement in the State of Israel. That which is abroad, is abroad. In Israel, it is different, and it has to be different.
Together with other members of the Government - Minister Azoulay, Minister Deri, Minister Litzman, and together with the Chief Rabbinate, we announced and told the Prime Minister: change the plan! In regards to the plan in its current form, we will fight against it in every way we can, and I hope we will indeed be able to announce news that this plan was changed.
Meanwhile, MK David Amsalem (Likud) tripled down on his past public remarks (which Hiddush also covered) against Reform Judaism and the Kotel agreement in a recent radio interview:
The Western Wall has been the identity of the Jewish people throughout the generations, and this is how one must treat it. Reform Judaism may be relevant to canning factories or income taxes, but not at the Western Wall, where the heritage of all of Israel is now and forever.
Given this never ending, hateful reality, it's high time for Diaspora Jewish leadership to call PM Netanyhu's bluff and tell him that firm action is necessary. He must either stop the incitement or sever his political alliance with those who wage war against world Jewry and block Netanyhu's own public commitment to ensure that all Jews feel at home in Israel.