On occasion, Western media lets go of all pretense of neutral reporting and displays its biases with such a shocking frankness one must reconsider everything coming out of a newsgathering agency such as the Associated Press. On Tuesday morning, this reporter was taken aback by an AP headline that was immediately picked up by countless outlets around the globe: Future of prayer site in doubt under Israel’s fragile govt.
On the AP website, the headline was accompanied by an image of the Women of the Wall, so it became clear immediately that the “future of prayer” the AP’s Tia Goldenberg was describing (she probably didn’t write the headline, someone in New York did) has nothing to do with the myriad Jewish men and women who frequent the Kotel year-round, but the tiny group of women who show up there once a month and the even tinier clusters of Reform Jews who visit there as part of their hop to the old country.
In other words, Breathe. The future of the Kotel is secure.
The story runs through the history of the past six years, since the Netanyahu government’s plan to add a non-Orthodox (“egalitarian”) section, accessible from the main plaza, excellent real-estate, to be available to the two or three folks who want to pray next to their spouses of the opposite sex by the holy supporting wall built by King Herod. Goldenberg continues to Netanyahu’s bowing down to “ultra-Orthodox” pressure, the breaking of his promises, and the fact that the current government is too fragile to do the right thing.
But wait, there’s more. Going down the story, and because I’ve been doing this work for a few days, I was looking for the punch line of humiliation and bitterness, that despicable line that merges the story with the raging, anti-Orthodox writer, and I was not disappointed. There it is:
American Jews have long lamented that Israel should be as accepting of their religious practices as they are of their financial and political support.
Did you get that? It’s not a report. No one said this nasty line to Tia Goldenberg, certainly no Jewish American—or Israeli—official. This vile stuff is all her own. And as such, it is absolutely and very painfully false.
In reality, it is the Israeli government that’s investing in America’s Jews, with some help from admirable wealthy individuals. Israel helps Jewish American youth find their roots, establish a connection to the only country on earth that will offer them a safe haven when it’s time to flee the torch and pitchfork crowd. Israel helps cultivate a Jewish presence on countless campuses. Israel helps local synagogues who take their cut when they run fundraisers for the Jewish State—many of those shuls would not survive were it not for those fundraisers.
And as to political support – a decisive majority of American Jews support the adversaries of Israel. Beyond radical groups such as Peace Now, J Street, and If Not Now, there’s the 70% of the Jewish vote that habitually goes to the Democratic party regardless of its tepid support for Israel—and that’s a kind description.
In this context I was reminded of Isaiah 49:17 which in Hebrew reads מְהָרְסַיִךְ וּמַחֲרִבַיִךְ מִמֵּךְ יֵצֵאוּ and can be interpreted either as Your destroyers and demolishers come out of you, or, Your destroyers and demolishers will leave you. It can also be that both these versions are true: Israel’s fiercest enemies are Jews, and, God willing, one day they’ll go away.