A senior aide to Naftali Bennett, Israel's Minister of Economy, Trade, Religious Affairs and Disapora Relations, sent me a letter last week that Bennett wrote about his unilateral Kotel (Western Wall) "compromise" with the intent that I post it. I responded by asking Bennett 6 questions regarding it and regarding the official ministry-made video he had released earlier last week. Neither Bennett or his aide responded. What follows are my questions, Bennett's deceptive letter, and a link to the video he released.
…I have a few questions for Minister Bennett regarding this letter:
1. The Jerusalem District Court ruled that Women of Wall (WoW) can put on tefillin and tallitot and pray out loud in the women's section of the Kotel, and AG Weinstein chose not to fight that ruling. By what right does Minister Bennett ignore that court ruling? Does he consider himself to be above Israel's courts?
2. WoW cannot pray in the Robinson's Arch area because many of its members are Orthodox and do not believe in egalitarian prayer. The minister's "solution" to the Kotel crisis, which ignores the court decision, also ignores this. Why?
3. If tern American Jewish community would decide to cut off all money to Israel over this issue (something that is now being seriously discussed) would the Minister still believe his imposed "solution" is correct and viable? If that American jewish reaction were to extend to not lobbying the US Congress for support and military aid for Israel, would that change the minister's mind?
4. Does it concern the minister that because of this issue, Israel appears in much of the West as a banana republic led by dishonest and corrupt politicians who appease fundamentalists and hurt women? (As a former head of the American section of WUJS, I can tell you that the government's behavior with regard to this issue has had an extremely negative impact on Israel's hasbara on college campuses across North America.)
5. As far as I know, traditionally Jews never used the Robinson's Arch area for prayer. Yet the minister appears to be claiming that the far southern end of the Temple retaining wall was indeed historically an area for Jewish prayer. Does the minister have any archeological proof of this?
6. Lastly, would the minister please explain why haredi (and, to a much lesser extent, Zionist Orthodox) rabbis should control the prayer areas of the traditionally-known Kotel? Why is Orthodoxy given this control while secular Jews and egalitarian Jews are not?
Bennett's letter (please click the letter itself to enlarge):
Attached is a letter that Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett sent out tonight to the community of Reform and Conservative rabbis throughout the Diaspora.
The letter relates to the recent changes at the Kotel and the construction of a temporary prayer platform there for pluralistic, egalitarian and progressive prayer services.