Western Wall back in the headlines: Hooligans attack, MKs react

On Thursday, June 30th, the first day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, ultra-Orthodox hooligans– reportedly led by the son of a Knesset member– disrupted bar and bat mitzvah services at the Egalitarian Kotel, the section of the Western Wall designated for egalitarian prayer. Some of the bullies ripped up prayer booklets, and one blew his nose into a detached page. Members of Knesset voiced their reactions on social media.

Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai (Labor):

I view very seriously the disruptions of ultra-Orthodox youth at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall. This is an insufferable provocation at a site holy to each and every Jew.

I expect the Israel Police to act swiftly in locating the hooligans and making them face justice.

Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel (New Hope):

A shame and a disgrace. The same prayerbook, children of one people.

MK Alon Tal (Blue and White):

The incessant and insufferable violence against practitioners at the Egalitarian Kotel must be stopped. I have received promises about strengthening enforcement and protection at the Egalitarian Kotel, and I will approach the Prime Minister on the matter.

What can we say to a young man, who comes to Israel from abroad after months of preparations for his being called to the Torah, who then is met with senseless hatred and blatant ugliness? Sad.

MK Gilad Kariv (Labor) spoke on Knesset TV:

Last Thursday at the Western Wall, on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, he underage son of a Member of Knesset, from this house, ripped up, with his own hands, a prayer book of the Conservative movement. His friend blew his nose into pages from the prayer book. I won’t mention the name, because it was a minor. Many in this house know about whom I am speaking. And I promise you that in the evening, that minor was not reprimanded by his father. Now, I pity the child.  And I pity the father who is unable to conduct a discourse of disagreement and debate without devolving into the depths of hate. But I don’t intend to dwell on it too much. They can– you know, I won’t use phrases that, again, are not nice. But they are welcome to continue to yell, and they are welcome, sometimes, to continue to curse.I think that the majority of the Israeli public is wiith me, and in step with me, and with God’s help we will be successful.

Former MK Tehila Friedman (Blue and White):

It is impossible to educate about the holiness of a Torah scroll and the name of God, and at the same time to encourage the ripping of prayer books and blowing snot in the page of a prayer book. It doesn’t go together.

It is impossible to educate about sexual boundaries in the marital sphere, and at the same time to turn the observance of the Jewish laws of niddah into a public issue. It doesn’t go together.

This is an educational message that contradicts itself.

The Western Wall was also in the headlines in recent days as Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) officially took over as Prime Minister and the election campaign for the 25th Knesset kicked off.

Chairman of the Shas party, Aryeh Machluf Deri: 

A Prime Minister who after his appointment does not go to offer a prayer at the Western Wall, the remnant of our Holy Temple, and a Prime Minister who in his first speech leaves out the expression “with God’s help,” leaves us, the Jewish and faithful camp, with hard feelings. The Western Wall and faith in the Creator, these are the things that set us apart as a Jewish state from all other peoples.

MK Vladimir Beliak (Yesh Atid):

The Prime Minister did not go to the Western Wall (didn’t you make a whole fuss a few months ago about how the holiest place is the Temple Mount, and not the Western Wall?) and didn’t say “with God’s help” – and they threw a tantrum of condemnations.

A moment ago we had a religious Prime Minister with a lot of “with God’s help” – and they called him a “conman”.
Judaism is not their highest joy, nor is tradition – only Netanyahu.

MK Beliak also responded to comments by MK Orit Strock (Religious Zionism) on the same topic on Kol B’Ramah radio:

Yesterday, during an interview on Kol B’Ramah, I understood that Orit Strock did not like that Prime Minister Yair Lapid chose to make his first visit to Yad Vashem and not to the Western Wall.

I said that we do not accept moralizing preaching from a racist party, elements of which have been convicted of aiding a terror organization.

Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) tweeted a picture of herself praying at the Western Wall:

With God’s help, and with your help, we will go and succeed!