Public Split over ‘Kotel Women’

Poll finds most men, secular Israelis support ‘Women of the Wall’ demand at Kotel.

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Maayana Miskin,

Women on the Wall (file)
Women on the Wall (file)

More Israelis support than oppose the Women of the Wall organization’s demand to change the rules at the Kotel (Western Wall) to allow their form of prayer services.

Pollsters from the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University asked, “Recently there have been several clashes between police and the ‘Kotel Women’ who insist on the equal right to pray out loud next to the Western Wall with tallit and tefillin. Do you support or oppose the idea that the Kotel Women should be allowed to pray in the manner they choose?”

Forty-eight percent of respondents said they support the idea, while 38% said they are opposed.

The poll found that men were more likely to express support. A slim majority of men – 51.8% - said they favor agreeing with the “Kotel Women’s” demands, compared to 46% of women.

Responses were also broken down according to respondents’ religious observance. A majority of 63.5% of secular respondents said they support the Women of the Wall’s demands, as did a majority of 53% of Israelis who described themselves as observant of tradition but not religious.

Among those describing themselves as religious, support was much lower: 26% of the “traditionally religious” expressed support, as did 27.5% of those describing themselves simply as “religious.” Among the hareidi-religious support stood at 0%.

Responses were also strongly split across ethnic lines, with Israelis of non-Russian European Jewish descent significantly more likely to support the Women of the Wall than were Israelis of Middle Eastern Jewish (Mizrachi), Spanish Jewish (Sephardi), or Russian descent.

Pollsters asked a second question, “Now, after the court ruled that women’s prayer at the Kotel does not violate traditional norms at the site and is not a criminal act, and there is no justification to prevent them from praying at the Kotel, do you support or oppose the Women of the Wall being allowed to pray in the manner of their choosing?”

The court’s ruling influenced more respondents to express support, with a total of 56% giving their support.

Women of the Wall argues that it is "liberating" the Kotel by forcing an end to the current rules regarding conduct in the women's prayer section. However, many Israeli women have expressed displeasure with the group's high-profile battle. The group has also been accused of hiding its true intentions.