Israeli Government Abandons Deal to Ensure Women’s Access to Western Wall
June 26, 2017, New York, NY – The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) today denounced the Israeli government’s renunciation of the 2016 agreement that guaranteed an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman released the following statement:
“The decision by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to abandon the carefully crafted agreement reached in 2016 to ensure access to the Western Wall by all branches of Judaism on an egalitarian basis steps up the assault on values of gender equality and religious tolerance, and distances the majority of the world’s Jewish community from Israel.
“The agreement previously negotiated was a compromise achieved through the efforts of the Reform and Conservative movements, the Women of the Wall, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and was accepted by a majority vote in the Israeli government. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to bow to the wishes of the ultra-orthodox at this late date is an affront to all who participated in those negotiations and who put their faith in the willingness of the Israeli government to support their religious freedom to pray at the Wall. It appears to be a purely political move by the Prime Minister to appease his ultra-religious supporters.
“All Jewish women and men should be able to have egalitarian prayer access to the Western Wall – the agreement to create an egalitarian space at the adjacent Robinson’s arch was already a compromise position. When fundamentalist ideas dictate the State’s approach to access to holy sites that are sacred to ALL Jews whatever their particular denomination or gender, the vision of Israel as a homeland for all Jews, including women is threatened. NCJW urges the Israeli Government and all Israeli and Diaspora Jews to defend equality and the rights of millions of Jews who are not ultra-orthodox from the imposition of profoundly misogynist and anti-democratic policies.”