Matters of Identity: The Wall, Women and a Cause for Wailing

Posted on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 @ 11:01 PM

 

wailing wall
 

For some time now challenges have been directed at the ultra-Orthodox way of life especially when it comes to the role of women.

Last Monday's arrest of 10 members of Women of the Wall, including two female American rabbis, was not the first time the group has met opposition at the Western or Wailing Wall. They have been protesting their exclusion from worshipping there in the traditional prayer shawl for 24 years.

Back in 1989, they were attacked by ultra-Orthodox men wielding metal chairs. The then Director General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs said nothing could be done to help the women hold prayer servicesthe prohibition against them doing so, he said, "is tradition in Israel, and this tradition is law and can't be changed."

This time, the group of about 200 were supported by Israeli paratrooper veterans from the 67 War. The Jewish Agency's Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet Jewish dissident, is trying to resolve the conflict at P.M. Netanyahu's request. He admits it will not be easy"we Jews chose to be not-easy people, and to live in a not-easy place, and to do not-easy religion.”

This is one more example of clashes over matters of identity with religious and ideological roots. The Western Wall has long been the center of such struggles. In the past, it was the entire Jewish community in Palestine that wanted access and only slowly over the years did that come about, most notably as a result of the '67 War. Now that the State of Israel has possession, contention over the Wall comes from a group within its own tradition.

Tags: jerusalem, 1967 Six Day War, identity, ultra-orthodox, peace, israel, western wall

Assessment of Peace Talks Regarding Jerusalem

Posted on Fri, Sep 12, 2008 @ 02:33 PM

Jerusalem continues at the center of Arab-Israeli conflict
Google News
Details: Assessment of Peace Talks Regarding Jerusalem
Peace Talks over Jerusalem

Four commentaries on the current state of play in discussions between the parties on the Jerusalem Question were published this week. 

My friend, Menachem Klein, who teaches political science in Israel, has contributed one of the pieces.

Jerusalem as an issue will not go away from any future discussions. See my recent article, "Triumph and Tragedy in the Middle East." 

Tags: jerusalem, arab-israeli conflict, peace, israel, Palestine