Sunday, March 20, 2016

Intransigence Wins, Common Sense Loses

Confrontation between WoW and Charedim at the Kotel (NYT 2013)
I am disappointed. There was a compromise reached a while back where a section of the Kotel was designated for those among us that do not want to participate in traditional methods of prayer at the Kotel Plaza. They would instead be able to pray any way they wished at ‘Robinson’s Arch’… another section out of sight from the Kotel Plaza that would not disturb those who wished to continue prayer along traditional lines.

So that women who wished to wear Talis and Tefillin, or those who wished to pray together with members of the opposite sex would be able to do so without disrupting the traditional prayer goers.

To be clear, I am opposed to these movements for ideological reasons. I have stated my reasons in the past and will not do so here as they are beyond the scope of this post. But even though I opposed these movements, I supported the compromise because it was the lesser of two evils. I was tired of the constant confrontation and the occasional reactive violence it engendered from Charedi zealots. It allowed the status quo to remain at the Kotel Plaza.

I am a believer in peace. And this compromise seemed to be the means of achieving peace between heterodox movements and the Orthodox establishment that governs all religious matters in the State of Israel. There was some Kvetching on both sides about the compromise. But for the most part this compromise seemed to settle things down.

The Kotel Rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz was on board with it. And even the Charedi Kenesset members seemed to grudgingly go along with it. Their reasoning was very practical and I agreed with them. There were bigger fish to fry. And this one was not worth the price of strident unalterable opposition. A price that may have destroyed the ruling coalition of which they are now a part. And from which they have gotten many concessions. Not the least of which was restoring the financial aid to their Charedi constituents that was taken away from them by the last governing coalition.

Finally! …I thought. The Charedi politicians were using common sense and letting this one go. Peace at last… or as they say on the Charedi world ‘Shalom Al Yisroel’. Everyone was more or less happy. Nobody got 100%  of what they wanted but they were more or less satisfied... happy to be done with it! The Charedi world was not endorsing this new arrangement. They didn’t vote for it. They just didn’t block it. They could still say they reject the validity of heterodox movements. 

Heterodox movements did not get the Kotel Plaza, but at least they got a part of the Kotel with which they could do whatever they wanted. Plans were underway for a massive development of that area that would make it more accessible and user friendly.

But it didn’t last long. The underlying Charedi opposition was simply too much to bear passively. Rabbi Rabinowitz backed off of his initial acceptance of the compromise. What precipitated this radical turn? Apparently it was the Prime Minister’s invitation to  Reform and Conservative leaders to celebrate their ‘victory’. That was too public for the Charedi politicians.  I guess Charedi politicians do not want to appear in any way compromising with movements that are heretical. That would go against everything they stand for. They have never compromised before and they were not about to start now. “What”, they might have said “were we thinking?!”

I think that were thinking rationally for a change. Unfortunately this is Israel. And rationality seems to always take a back seat to rigidity. Compromise is a word they do not understand. Except for one brief moment in time.

The compromise as it stands now has been scuttled and is now under government review to see if the compromise can be adjusted to satisfy all parties.


But then again, what was I thinking? Charedi intransigence is the rule of the day in Israel! It wouldn’t be Israel without it. Nothing is going to get into the way of that. Certainly not common sense.