Ultra-Orthodox Worshipper to Six-Day-War Veterans: “You didn’t liberate the Wall. God Liberated the Wall.”
Michael Lanir, Six-Day-War Veteran: “I’m tired of sitting on my couch and watching Women of the Wall fight. I decided to join them and protect democracy and equality with my own body.”
Western Wall Heritage Foundation guards prevented 50 of the Six-Day-War veterans from entering the Kotel plaza with a Torah scroll. The veterans, along with 300 women and men, came to support Women of the Wall at their Rosh Hodesh Cheshvan prayer, and express their protest over the cancellation of the Kotel Agreement.
Micha Eshet, former 66thBattalion Commander in the 55thBrigade of the Paratroopers, who liberated the Wall was wrestled to the ground after trying to get a Torah scroll into the Kotel plaza, along with his veteran friends. The former paratrooper held onto the scroll, while his comrades were hit and shoved. After being pushed, Eshet lay on his back, holding onto the Torah scroll.
During the confrontation, an ultra-Orthodox man called to the veterans: “What have you got with the Kotel? God liberated the Wall. Not you.”
A young ultra-Orthodox man was caught with a 5-inch chef’s knife at the entrance to the Wall right as Women of the Wall Prayer convened.
Meanwhile, WOW worshippers conducted the Morning Prayer at the usual WOW corral at the Women’s Section of the Wall. Worshippers were met with disruptions, shrieks, whistles and curses. Security did little to intervene, until the very end of the prayer.
At the end of their prayer, Women of the Wall joined the paratroopers and veterans who waited with the Torah scroll at the southern entrance to the plaza.
The veterans raised signs saying: “We support the Kotel Agreement” and “The Kotel Was Liberated for Every one”, and together with WOW sang Hatikva.
WOW Chairperson Anat Hoffman: “Record Chutzpa at the Wall! 70-year-old Commander Micha Eshet who liberated the Wall was wrestled to the ground by the Kotel Rabbi’s security men. Eshet along with his comrades, was trying to liberate the Wall once more, 50 years after he liberated it from Jordanian control. But Micha gained yards. He was able to move the Torah scroll forward 10 yards into the Kotel Plaza. Micha is a hero. A mentsch. An Israeli who is outraged by the oppression at the Wall.”
WOW Executive Director, Lesley Sachs: “The attempt to bring a knife this morning to the Wall is a reminder that bloodshed at the Kotel is only a matter of time, in the absence of the Kotel Agreement.
Micha Eshet, who fought in Jerusalem in 1967: “We liberated the Wall for both men and women. We can’t stand by any longer when the Wall is managed as an ultra-Orthodox synagogue in which Women of the Wall are forbidden to pray according to their custom for 30 years.”
Veteran Paratrooper Oded Hon: “This is only the beginning. We are here in order to make the government implement the Kotel Agreement. The way the Kotel is run today doesn’t represent many Israelis, me included. The Kotel Agreement enables every person to find his or her place at the Kotel. We hope that the Kotel would stop being run according to the wishes of an extreme minority.”
Attorney Orly Erez Likhovski: “The security guards started to fulfill their duty. It was too little, too late. We will return to the court and demand effective steps be taken to secure Women of the Wall prayers.”
About Women of the Wall:
WOW is a group of religious women from all denominations (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) who pray at the Western Wall every “Rosh Hodesh” (beginning of the month) and have been fighting for 28 years for equal rights for women in praying at the Western Wall. The group wishes to pray according to Jewish Law (Halacha), in a group and out loud; to read from a Torah scroll; and to put on tefillin and tallit, at the section known as the Women’s Section of the Western Wall.
Following a 3-year-negotiation, the Kotel Agreement was approved in government on January 31, 2016, by a 15 to 5 majority. The agreement stated that a third section be established, designated for Women of the Wall and pluralistic movements’ prayers. The agreement was voided by a cabinet vote on June 25th, 2017. The Supreme Court hearing of WOW petition was heard on August 31, 2017.