Former Soviet dissident and Israeli Cabinet minister Natan Sharansky, now chairman of the Jewish Agency, invoked the old “it is not easy to be a Jew” cliché after the latest Women of the Wall dispute Monday.
The group, also known by its acronym WOW, comprises Reform and Conservative Jews, mostly from the United States and who stage a monthly protest of approaching the Western Wall in prayer shawls and sometimes with a Torah scroll, prohibited at the Wall by a rabbinic decision that the Supreme Court has accepted.
Ten women were arrested Monday, including the sister of American comedian Sarah Silverman.
Sharansky entered the picture last year when headlines in The New York Times and elsewhere of the arrest of a woman with a Torah scroll at the Wall generated protests at the door of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who turned to Sharansky for help.
Sharansky told the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, meeting in Jerusalem this week, that there is no simple solution to the dispute.
“When I listen to the very partial presentation, I am fully with them — when I listen to the other side, I have to accept that they also have logic,” said Mr. Sharansky, quoted by The New York Times. “We do have to find a solution in which nobody will feel discriminated against, and at the same time we don’t see the pictures every day of hundreds of people fighting in the most ugly way.
“Is it easy? Not. But we Jews chose to be [a] not-easy people, and to live in a not-easy place, and to ‘do’ [a] not-easy religion.”