To anyone interested in events in the Middle East, it is helpful to follow what is occurring insider various countries. Today a fascinating conflict is unfolding insider Israel.
The warfare is about the rights of women.
A group calling themselves Women of the Wall, or WOW, have been protesting how women are treated at Jerusalem’s holy Western Wall, the sight of the ancient Temple. A petition separates the men and women. Located under the area called Robinson’s Arch (where a large walkway a millenium ago led to the upper area of the Temple Mount), the women’s portion of the plaza in front of the wall is deemed by WOW as being too small. addition, the Jewish woman show up wearing tallits (prayer shawls) and tefillin (a box worn on the head containing scripture). The tallit and tefillin have only been worn by men in the past.
While the women have protested for some time, recently men and woman got into an old fashioned brawl over what the WOW group is doing. Haredi (ultra-orthodox Jews) spat on and cursed the women while hundreds of supporters of WOW responded vehemently. Hey, forget the Palestinians. We’ve got a conflict to watch INSIDE Jerusalem.
What can we make of it? To begin to unravel this battle between men and women, we must remember that Orthodox Judaism controls the wall and has an Orthodox Rabbi stationed at the wall in change of activities. In fact, 4,000 Orthodox rabbis are paid by the state and remain firmly in control of religious life within Israel. Of course, Christians and groups like the Mormons have no standing. Conservative and Reformed Judaism have little better standing. In turn, the Orthodox are going to maintain their position on the separation of men and women. In Orthodox synagogues, a petition always separates the groups. Naturally, the Rabbis are offended by the women, seeing them as feminine activists. In turn, the WOW group views the rabbis as control freaks locked in the past. The women also protest the hold the Orthodox have on marriage within the country. The result is that many are forced to leave the country and go somwhere like Cyprus when they seek marriage under other circumstances.
In an Israeli court case, WOW won the right to practice their convictions for one hour every month. Neither side of the conflict is satisfied with this decision.
Now Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky enters the picture with a proposal to settle the war. Recognizing that classic Zionism includes all types of Jewish convictions, Sharansky is proposing that the state recognize and accommodate these differences. Sharansky suggests that the plaza be extended along the wall to provide more sacred space. His idea would a victory for religious pluralism. Of course, the Orthodox will not like that. Currently, the WOW group is not even recognizing the existence of the Sharahsky plan.
And so the conflicts continue.
The pressure is now on the government and the Prime Minister to settle the matter. Will they? Hmm.
There you have it. A war WITHIN Israel!