Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tikkun's Analysis of the Sharansky Plan

Abby Caplin wrote about the current situation at the Western Wall site in Jerusalem yesterday in the online daily blog of Tikkun magazine. She reported on a conference call that Anat Hoffman made with various Jewish organisations:

"According to chair of WOW Anat Hoffman, who spoke last week via conference call to the New Israel Fund, and yesterday to the Union for Reform Judaism, the plan calls for opening up the area of the Kotel plaza and extending the length of the Kotel to Robinson's Arch. It includes a single entrance for all and 24/7 access.

The current portion of what is now the Kotel could remain under the jurisdiction of Rabinowitz's Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which collects vast sums of money from often unwitting Diaspora Jews to maintain its hegemony. Robinson's Arch would be raised up topographically to be on par with the Kotel area to create a larger, continuous stretch of Kotel. The newer raised-up section designated for egalitarian mixed gender prayer might fall under the aegis of the Jewish Agency. This leaves some confusion about how and where women-only, and Orthodox-inclusive, Women of the Wall would pray. It could be that, despite the compromise, the power of the ultra-Orthodox men might remain intact at the original site, where Orthodox women would continue to be subjected to gross misogyny in that section.

According to Hoffman, Sharansky's plan will face many obstacles. The plan must be reviewed by Israel's Department of Antiquities, accepted by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (which claims jurisdiction over the Mughrabi bridge located between the Wall and Robinson's Arch), and Israeli citizens must be willing to spend millions of shekels to accommodate ultra-Orthodox "sensibilities". Successful implementation of Sharansky's plan could take years. But given that some progress has been made, "WOW refuses to be one of those obstacles," Hoffman said.

Of course, a more cost-effective and common sense option would be for Jews to share time, rather than space, at the Kotel."

the entire article may be read here.

Bearing in mind the strong bias of the author as reflected in the way she describes the situation, I still think this is a clear depiction of it at the moment. On the one hand, Sharansky's proposal is unclear, uncertain  and expensive. On the other hand, WoTW have hope, flexibility and strength enough to compromise for the sake of progress.

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