Seeing as all of Israel’s voracious conflicts have been settled and peace has been restored between the warring factions in the land, the Shas party decided it was time for a little more bloodletting. According to the released agenda of the Ministerial Legislation Committee, on Sunday it will debate a bill submitted by Shas establishing as crimes some types of “inappropriate behavior” at the Western Wall.
According to the bill, holding a mixed prayer, playing a musical instrument, inappropriate clothing, or smoking at the Kotel will be considered inappropriate behavior punishable by six months in prison or a NIS 10,000 ($2,867).
The explanatory notes that accompany the bill state that “since the Western Wall has been liberated, its status and preservation of its sanctity have yet to be regulated with a special law. From time to time, this causes a violation of the sacred values of the nation of Israel. Therefore, it is proposed to establish provisions in the law to regulate both the preservation of the prayer order in the prayer area of the Western Wall, as well as preserving the status and sanctity of the entire Western Wall plaza.”
Needless to say, even coalition members resisted the idea, as Culture Minister Miki Zohar (Likud) expressed it: “The Western Wall belongs to all the people of Israel and is sacred to all Jews and there is no need for laws to preserve the sanctity of the place. Maintaining the status quo is critical to maintaining the unity of the nation.”
Minister Zohar concluded with a verse (Proverbs 3:17): “Her ways are pleasant, and all her paths are peaceful.”
MK Gilad Kariv (Labor), who heads the Reform movement in Israel, said in response to the bill: “The real name of the bill should be: ‘Would you murder and take possession too?’ (I Kings 21:19) The Haredi politicians are thwarting the implementation of the historic compromise plan at the Western Wall and are also demanding that the chief rabbi be given a predatory monopoly on the holy site.”
MK Hili Tropper (National Camp), responded: “In this government, they talk plenty about Jewish identity, but everything is being done to divide the Jews and to alienate large segments from their Judaism. The Western Wall, the place for Jews from all over the world, and from all walks of life, is about to be closed to those who think differently or dress differently. Even to those who play music. They will continue to talk excitedly about the Jewish identity of the State of Israel, and then they’ll close the gates of the Western Wall before those who think or believe differently from them.”
And Tropper also cited a verse (Isaiah 56:7): I will bring them to My sacred mount and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. … For My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
See? That’s the difference between Israeli politicians and the rest of the world. In Israel, even secular politicians decorate their statements with appropriate biblical verses.
And what, you might ask, did the Women of the Wall have to say? You guessed it, they’re also against the bill. They issued a statement saying: “The women of the Wall continue and will continue to pray in their own way, as they have done for the past three decades. However, you must understand: this is a time of emergency for everyone who values Jewish and democratic Israel, for everyone who sees an important value in preserving the Kotel as the home of the entire Jewish people.”
The home of the Jewish people? No, it’s not. It’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there, honestly.
The Shas bill will most likely never see the light of day. I would be surprised if even the other Haredi factions would support it. The bill is intended entirely for internal consumption, to show Shas voters that their party is still alive and breathing fire even after their party chairman Aryeh Deri has been ousted from the government.
But ya gotta do the dance.