Police forced WoW to pray in the rear of the Western Wall Plaza next to the bathrooms and barred them from bringing in a Torah scroll to use in their prayer service. As WoW tried to pray, hundreds of haredim shouted, blew whistles, shouted and spit at the women. Police did nothing to stop the haredim from abusing the women as the site's haredi rabbi joined with the haredi protesters.
Police Join With Haredim To Illegally Bar Women Of The Wall From The Kotel
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
It was, some say, a stain on Israel’s democracy.
Israel’s police force for the second time in as many months chose to ignore a clear court ruling that orders them to allow Women of the Wall (WoW) to pray at the Kotel (Western Wall), wear tallits (prayer shawls), tefillin (phylacteries) and conduct normal prayers.
Instead, police forced WoW to pray in the rear of the Western Wall Plaza next to the bathrooms and barred them from bringing in a Torah scroll to use in their prayer service.
As WoW tried to pray, hundreds of haredim shouted, blew whistles, shouted and spit at the women.
Police did nothing to stop the haredim from abusing the women for at least 45 minutes. Then a small number of whistles were allegedly confiscated – but many more haredim continued to blow whistles, wave protest signs, shout and, when close enough, spit at the women.
"Police are in cahoots with haredi thugs. They are watching what's going on and doing absolutely nothing,” Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who heads the Reform Movement’s Israel branch told Ha’aretz.
“Police are not dealing equally with us and the Haredim. The same law that prevents bringing Torah scrolls into the Kotel area [from the outside] also prohibits using musical instruments, which is what whistles are. It also prevents holding up signs,” Lesley Sachs, director of Women of the Wall reportedly said.
Shmuel ben Ruby, the spokesman for police in Jerusalem, disagreed.
"Blowing whistles is not against the law or a disturbance of the peace. Therefore, we will not stop it,”” he said. Ben Ruby also claimed that because the women’s section of the Kotel “was full” of protesting haredi women and girls by 6:30 am, police made a last minute decision to force WoW to pray by the bathrooms far in the rear of the plaza.
Haredim also led chants against WoW using a public address system and appeared to use the holy site’s own public address system to lead prayers in an attempt to drown out WoW.
Police did not interfere with this use of state resources to damage WoW.
The Kotel’s haredi rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitch, was seen standing with haredi protesters and participating in the prayer service broadcast over the site’s loudspeakers – even though he had purportedly asked haredi leaders not to demonstrate and not to bring in hundreds of protesters.
WoW managed to complete their prayers and blow shofars – traditional for the month preceding Rosh Hashana.
Wow supporters from around the world watched today's prayer service live as it happened on the Internet.