Charlie Kalech handed a Torah scroll from the men’s section of the Kotel to members of Women of the Wall (WoW) in the women’s section, sparking a violent response from an as yet unidentified Kotel security guard. But police arrested Kalech, not his assailant, and have refused to enforce the law – an increasingly common problem in Israel, which is moving further and further away from liberal democratic values.
Above and above right: Charlie Kalech being assaulted by the unidentified plainclothes Kotel security guard
Man Assaulted By Kotel Security Guard After Giving Torah Scroll To Women Of The Wall Will Sue Assailant If Police Continue To Refuse To Enforce The Law
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
An American immigrant to Israel who was assaulted by a Kotel (Western Wall) security guard last week and then detained by police when he reported the crime is threatening to sue, Ha’aretz reported.
Charlie Kalech handed a Torah scroll from the men’s section of the Kotel to members of Women of the Wall (WoW) in the women’s section, sparking a violent response from an as yet unidentified plainclothes security guard (who may very well be an actual police officer).
Kalech, who owns a digital marketing company in Jerusalem, thrown to the stone pavement by the security guard and suffered a head injury. Instead of arrested the assailant, police detained Kalech and wrongly told him he had violated the law by giving the Torah scroll to WoW.
A Jerusalem court previously ruled WoW can pray in the women’s section of the Kotel as they see fit – including reading from a Torah scroll – but the state-sanctioned haredi rabbi of the Kotel has put in place various regulations that prevent WoW from doing so. One of those regulations forbids any of the Kotel’s public Torah scrolls from being taken into the women’s section. Another forbids anyone from bringing their own Torah scroll to the holy site.
“So far, nothing has been done to bring this man to justice,” Kalech told Haaretz. “If the police continue to do nothing, which I’ve been told by my lawyers is very possible, then I will consider bringing a private suit against the man who attacked me.…He came up to me and told me to move away. I asked him why and he told me that he worked there, even though he had no uniform on and nothing identifying him as an employee of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. I told him to call the police if he wanted me to move, and then he proceeded to grab me by the arm and then by the neck. He then shoved me backward and I fell.”
When Kalech reported the assault to police, they arrested Kalech, fingerprinted him and took a mug shot. Police also questioned for several hours and told him he would be charged with disturbing the peace – even though a Jerusalem court previously sharply criticized police for similar false charges related to WoW in the past and ruled police had to arrest haredim and others who attack or impede WoW, not WoW and its supporters who are only trying to pray.
“They took my fingerprints and a mug shot of me, and they also took my cellphone. When I finally got it back, I saw that they had taken photos [of the security guard and the incident] off of it [in an attempt to destroy evidence],” Kalech said.
Kalech told Ha’aretz that his attorneys do not think charges will really be pressed against him. But they also don’t think police will close Kalech’s file.
“In their opinion, they will just let the file sit there. But I’m determined to have it closed because it now means I have a criminal record,” Kalech, a Conservative Jew who reportedly immigrated to Israel 25 years ago from New Jersey, said.
He also told Ha’aretz that despite the assault and the police misbehavior, he intends to continue attending WoW’s monthly Kotel prayer service to show his support for WoW.