5,000 female haredi teens and a much smaller number of haredi male teens blocked Women of the Wall (WoW) from praying at the Kotel (Western Wall) this morning by mobbing the Kotel, shouting slurs and throwing eggs and other objects at the WoW group. (There was at least one stoning and a mob beating of a WoW supporter, as well. Police saved that man but apparently did not make any related arrests. Please see the update posted below.)
According to Ynet, the girls shouted “hate slogans” to drown WoW’s prayer service and confuse them. The haredi girls also hurled eggs and water bottles at the WoW.
But police reportedly detained only two haredim – one male, one female – for questioning.
Police moved WoW away the Kotel where it normally holds its prayer services and cordoned them off in the back of the large Western Wall Plaza next to public bathrooms and far from the Kotel itself, rather than protect WoW from the haredim, angering WoW and its allies.
“Today police succumbed to haredi bullying and put us at the back of the bus again. Had we arrived without the police escort we would have been able to secure a spot near the Kotel as we’ve done for the past 24 years,” Leslie Zacks, director of the Women of the Wall organization, said.
“Israel Police have violated the court ruling allowing the Women of the Wall to pray and have rewarded a small group of haredi provocateurs and rabbis engaged in spreading hatred. “Israel Police have forgotten that they have a duty to safeguard freedom of religion at the Western Wall and not lock up worshippers,” Reform movement leader Rabbi Gilad Kariv said. He called on Israel’s cabinet to intervene.
Jerusalem’s assistant mayor Yossi Deutsch of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party was one of the protest’s senior organizers. He attacked WoW for even coming to the Kotel to pray – even though it has has done so for decades and has a recent Israeli court ruling that strongly supports it.
“The Western Wall is a place that unites the Jewish people. It’s a shame that on the first day of the Month of Av a group of women [WoW] would come here and divide the people.”
After two months of police adhering to that court ruling and, for the first time, protecting WoW members from haredi attacks, police reverted to its decades-long policy of treating WoW like provocateurs and the haredi mob as provoked innocents.
It is exactly this police policy the Jerusalem District Court ruled to be illegal only a few months ago.
Uodate 12:28 pm CDT – The Ha’aretz live blog has the following information that makes it even clearer that police intentionally violated the Jerusalem District Court ruling to favor haredim (something they did almost certainly at the request of Israel’s Likud Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made a career of ignoring or skirting court rulings). [Empasis added]:
…08:19 A.M. Police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby said two people have been detained at the Kotel. One is a young ultra-Orthodox male who threw a bottle at the women’s prayer group, and one Haredi woman who tried to block the women’s prayer group members from coming into the Kotel area. He called the atmosphere “charged” and said the reason that Women of the Wall and their supporters were prohibited from entering the women’s prayer space was that “between 5,000 and 7,000 young seminary women were on the site and had taken it over.” He reported one incident of stone throwing at the women.
8:14 A.M. Haredim protesters are now starting to throw eggs over the women’s section and they just charged at a man, who had to be ripped out of their hands by police. He was praying with Women of the Wall and wearing a kippa and had peyot. Police had to tear him away from protesters because they were beating him up.
Rabbi Sari Laufer from Rodeph Sholom, a reform synagogue in New York, is six months pregnant and was just hit by an egg in her neck. She said “it is so profoundly sad that this is happening on Rosh Chodesh Av.”
8:07 A.M. There are conflicting reports about just how full the women’s prayer section is, although police cited this as the reason for denying Women of the Wall access to the Western Wall. Eyewitnesses said it was full but not overly crowded and that there was more than enough space available to accommodate the women’s prayer group [Women of the Wall].
Leaders of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism said police operated in collaboration with Haredim and against district court ruling to not allow Women of the Wall near the Kotel.…
Update 12:45 pm CDT – Israel Hayom reported that the chairwoman of WoW Anat Hoffman accused the police of intentionally violating the court ruling and its agreement with WoW made after the court ruling was upheld by Israel’s attorney general:
“The police broke the rules and failed to uphold our agreement, by which as long as we adhere to the security guidelines they are supposed to ensure that we are able to pray safely next to the Western Wall. Instead of protecting democratic rights and allowing the Women of the Wall to pray freely at the Western Wall Plaza, the police opted to push us into a corner,” Hoffman said.
Update 1:08 pm CDT – This is how the haredi news site Yeshiva World reported the story. Note that it fails to report the stoning, the beating of the WoW supporter, and the throwing of eggs, water bottles and other objects at WoW, even though the haredi violence was reported by literally dozens of reporters from more than a dozen news outlets who saw the violence first hand:
Adhering to the call of HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita and Gedolei Yisrael Shlita, thousands of women and seminary students arrived at the Kosel early Monday morning, taking part in tefilos for Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av 5773. Over 5,000 women reportedly took part in the rosh chodesh tefilla. Egged increased bus service beginning at 05:30 in frum areas of Yerushalayim to permit women wishing to take part to do so.Gedolei Yisrael called upon the women to come to daven at the Kosel, not to engage in any confrontation with participants of the Women of the Wall (WoW) prayer service.
Baruch Hashem there were so many women, police distanced the Women of the Wall from the Kosel. Police wanted to avoid conflict as the women who daven at the Kosel year round, not just to create a rosh chodesh provocation, outnumbered the Women of the Wall who arrived for their monthly event.
A large police force was on hand, including many undercover policemen who mingled in the crowd, ready to act on a moment’s notice – determined to prevent a confrontation as seen in recent months on rosh chodesh between chareidim and WoW.
For the WoW there was disappointment as they found themselves distanced from the Kosel, pushed away by the thousands of women who understood the significance of adhering to the instructions of Gedolei Yisrael.
“WoW leader Anat Hoffman told Channel 2 TV News “This was the first rosh chodesh we did not even see the Kosel. While police wished to protect us, our intention was to reach the women’s section of the Kosel. The women who davened at the Kosel behaved admirably. The same cannot be said regarding the men. Some of the words heard from them cannot be repeated.
“We are law-abiding and adhered to police. However, regarding the bullies, how is it they receive the largest area and the most space?
“Mehadrin buses are illegal and gender separation is illegal as the High Court ruled and at the Kosel, we cannot be pushed to the rear. This is not proper. We tried speaking with the police commander yesterday asking what arrangements will be in place today but he did not wish to respond.”
By Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com