Regev Responds

PM Bennett is destroying the Jewish people. Who knew?

What will the monthly clash over the Kotel be like tomorrow?

The executives of the American Reform and Conservative movements, Rabbis Rick Jacobs and Jacob Blumenthal, arrived in Israel for the JAFI board meetings; and they have scheduled multiple meetings with Israeli political leaders from Prime Minister Bennett down.

Women of the Wall protecting Torah Scroll, source: Women of the WallWomen of the Wall protecting Torah Scroll, source: Women of the Wall

While the Haredi reaction to the meeting PM Bennett may lead one to think that what is being considered is a reinstatement of the Kotel Agreement, a more careful review of the meeting account provided, for instance, by the Israel Religious Action Center, indicates that a much more modest outcome can be expected. There is no surprise here, for only a short while ago, Bennett's second-in-command Minister Shaked was reported meeting with Haredi leadership and promising them that so long as she is involved, the Kotel Agreement will not be reinstated. In that light, we should be reading the following account, following the meeting:

While he could not promise to implement the entire Western Wall Agreement, he did promise to work to end the violence and repair Ezrat Yisrael.

As to the repairs, it should be remembered that this very promise was made by former PM Netanyahu as well, both publicly and to the Supreme Court, and as to preventing the violence, which the movements and WOW Have repeatedly experience, tomorrow and following days will tell. So far, the police have not shown any real level of commitment to safeguard safety of the WOW and non-Orthodox movements. Any change in that demonstration of weakness and disregard would be welcome.

As the headline depicted above indicates, these meetings were covered in the Israeli media and, as expected, drew venomous reactions from the ultra-Orthodox leadership.

While a number of issues were discussed in these meetings, it was clear that the main focus was on the efforts to reinstate the suspended Kotel agreement. Naturally, they are planning on attending tomorrow's monthly Shacharit service with the Women of the Wall. Both camps are gearing up for tomorrow's event. While the two movements invite their members to come together for prayers at the egalitarian section (marching with Torah scrolls from the Dung Gate), stressing their plea that the Kotel truly be shared by all, the Haredi leadership describes the arrival of the movements' leaders as intended "to generate provocation.

The dramatic headline of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party is paralleled in the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthdox media organs, which relate to both the Kotel and the meetings with Israel's political leaders. MK Rabbi Yitzhak Pindrus, for instance, stated that "After the Reform failure in the world, they are trying to anchor themselves and gain a foothold here in the Land of Israel; but here in the Land, they admit themselves that all their efforts to introduce worship changes at the Western Wall are a pathetic attempt to generate provocation without any real future of true belonging to the Jewish people."

These are people who have no Torah or commitment to the Land of Israel. Rather, many of them fund extreme leftist organizations even to the point of collaboration with our enemies... Bennett destroys the Jewish people.

His colleague MK Rabbi Uri Maklev added, "These are people who have no Torah or commitment to the Land of Israel. Rather, many of them fund extreme leftist organizations even to the point of collaboration with our enemies... Bennett destroys the Jewish people. These organizations represent nobody and are trying to reinvent themselves. They are irrelevant. They do not speak for diaspora Jewry." Similarly, MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher follows in step, announcing that: "Bennett's government is turning itself into the red carpet that the destroyers of the faith would enter upon on their path to destroy the Jewish character of the State of Israel."

As important as these verbal attacks are, tangible action has also been taken, following a decree by the top Rabbinic leaders of the yeshiva world, Rabbi Kanievsky and Rabbi Edelstein - "Tens of thousands of girls who study in seminaries in the Jerusalem area will be bussed to the Kotel to protest the Women of the Wall's and the non-Orthodox movements' worship. Past experience has shown that assembling these Haredi girls leads to physical encounters and violence against the Women of the Wall; therefore, a carefully worded announcement regarding these plans was issued: "The girls will not, God forbid, come in order to brawl, but rather to pray and shout against those who are attempting to harm the holy site, against the halakhah that has been handed down to us from generation to generation."

The fear of yet another large-scale, violent encounter has resulted in an attempt on the part of the President of Israel (Herzog), who reached out to Rabbi Kanievsky's court, appealing to him to instruct those who will assemble for the protest to refrain from violence. This message was indeed printed in today's Yated Ne'eman in the name of Kanievsky and Edelstein - that the girls should refrain from "confronting or being drawn into deviant, likely provocations."

It remains to be seen whether the incitement of the girls and the Haredi public against the Reform and Conservative movements and Women of the Wall will outweigh the adamant denial that any confrontation or violence is being entertained by the summoned masses of Haredi girls.

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