"Any possibility that women and men will be able to pray at the Kotel in a manner that does not suit the haredi interpretation has been erased. What will happen for example when an Orthodox woman wants to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish for her dear ones in the women’s section? According to a large number of halakhic authorities (on religious law) this is permitted, but the Chief Rabbinate, which by government decision will be the determining body, rejects it.…"
…[A]ny possibility that women and men will be able to pray at the Kotel in a manner that does not suit the haredi interpretation has been erased. What will happen for example when an Orthodox woman wants to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish for her dear ones in the women’s section? According to a large number of halakhic authorities (on religious law) this is permitted, but the Chief Rabbinate, which by government decision will be the determining body, rejects it.
The government decision refers to Women of the Wall, a group of several dozen women, and ignores a far more important movement that exists today in Orthodox Jewry, which aspires to reduce the inequality between men and women in the context of halakha or halakhic conversion. As a result of this aspiration, for example, hundreds of 12-year-old girls in Israel and worldwide choose every year to celebrate their bat mitzvah by reading from the Torah and having an aliyah (being called up to the Torah). There is no place for them in the northern plaza of the Kotel [i.e., the current haredi-controlled Kotel prayer area], not now and not in the foreseeable future.
Of course, we can’t even mention having a woman as a prayer leader in the northern plaza, which after all is what the entire battle is about, but the arrangement legitimizes everything belonging to the category of the “status quo” at the Western Wall. This includes the modesty inspectors who are posted at the entrance to the women’s section, or another small infuriating fact, which nobody talks about: The women in the territory of the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, must make do with a women’s section that is 17 meters in width, as compared to 48 meters for the men’s section – 26 percent of the area for 50 percent of the Jews. Demands to change this distortion will from now on encounter a waving of the government decision of January 31, 2016, to the effect that the Western Wall is Haredi territory that has no room for reforms…
Lis also correctly notes that it was largely Orthodox women who started Women of the Wall and who lead the early fight to have the ability to hold a monthly women's prayer service on Rosh Hodesh at the Kotel. They have been entirely sold out by this new compromise, which benefits (on paper but likely not so much in reality) the non-Orthodox Jewish movements. Not coincidentally, Women of the Wall's current leader, Anat Hoffman, happens to be an executive employee of the Reform Movement.
But most telling is Ettinger's recounting of Women of the Wall's longtime position on the Robinson's Arch site – the area where the new egalitarian prayer area will, perhaps, eventually be built:
…In February 1996 attorneys representing Women of the Wall wrote to the committee appointed to find a solution to the dispute: “The assumption that there is no way to consider a solution at the Western Wall plaza is extremely unreasonable and discriminatory. The proposal to distance the women from the Western Wall plaza to other places is humiliating and painful, constitutes an order of expulsion from the Jewish People and is an attempt of sorts to turn them into an inferior brand of Jews.”
Women of the Wall director Anat Hoffman told Haaretz in 2003 in reference to the nearby Robinson’s Arch complex that “even if it were a marble palace, it’s still not the Kotel [Western Wall].” She later repeated that “nobody feels that it’s the Kotel,” and when the idea picked up speed, starting in 2013, Hoffman and her colleagues were quoted innumerable times, in Israel and the United States, citing the example of a bus. They weren’t willing to accept the idea that they would be thrown “to the back of the bus,” in other words, Robinson’s Arch, “even if the air conditioner works better there.”…
So why did Women of the Wall and the non-Orthodox movements accept this compromise?
Because the non-Orthodox movements got the promise (likely never to be fulfilled) of government funding to support their activities at Robinson's Arch and with that promised funding came a form of government recognition. If the Kotel had simply been divided into three parts – a male only prayer area, a female only prayer area, and an egalitarian prayer area – and the Israeli court decision granting Women of the Wall the right to hold monthly prayer services in the women's section, put on tallits and tefillin there, and read from the Torah there, been enforced (or if the egalitarian section could have been given over to Women of the Wall in whole or in part for those monthly prayer services), one could say that true religious freedom gains had been made. But this is not the case at all.
The non-Orthodox movements won an illusionary victory, one that likely set back a true religious freedom victory by a decade or more and which did great damage to moderate Orthodox Jews and their religious rights in an increasingly haredi-controlled Israel. They traded their rights for a few pieces of shiny fools gold and plastic beads. And the reason many haredim are complaining about this deal is that even those plastic beads are too much for them to concede the "evil" "Reformers."