Phony Kotel Issue
Letters to the editor

Phony Kotel Issue

Your Year in Review column (Dec. 29) referenced an exchange between Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Knesset member Merav Michaeli concerning the controversy over prayer space at the Western Wall. You claimed that Hotovely displayed “a triumphalist edge that seemed to sum up a troubling year,” when she said to Michaeli, “Merav, when was the last time you prayed at the Kotel?”

This is an offensive portrayal of Hotovely’s question, which was both reasonable and pertinent.

The section at the Western Wall allocated for traditional prayer is filled with worshipers who overflow its bounds several times each year. The alternative Ezrat Yisrael platform [at Robinson’s Arch], although it was built several years ago during the previous government, has not once been filled to capacity.

Nothing could be more germane than the fact that Michaeli never prays at the Wall. She represents no constituency as she demands expansion of a space that is hardly used at present; she is merely looking for an opportunity to tear down the current government. In reality, this fight was created by American liberal leaders anxious for a fresh cause around which their dwindling constituencies could rally — for they, too, rarely visit the Wall.

This is then exploited by Israel’s worst enemies, who are anxious to characterize Israel as a place that does not offer full religious rights to all citizens. In reality, Israel is the only place in the Middle East where freedom of worship is protected and assured for all its citizens. Those who care about Israel’s peace and security should steer far away from this artificial conflict.

Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills


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