Exploiting the Western Wall to incite against the Israeli government

Reform and Conservative Rabbis should stop exploring the holiness of the Western Wall to incite against the Israeli government for political reasons.

Ezequiel Doiny

OpEds Reform Jews praying in Jerusalem (illustrative)
Reform Jews praying in Jerusalem (illustrative)
Flash 90

Dissident groups in Judaism have a long history of activism against Israel, and historically the Reform movement was against Zionism. 

Zionism-Israel.com describes the opposition of Reform Judaism to Zionism.  "...The Frankfurt-am-Main Conference of Rabbis on July 15-28, 1845, decided to eliminate from the ritual 'the prayers for the return to the land of our forefathers and for the restoration of the Jewish state.'"

American Reform Jews followed suit. The Philadelphia Conference of Nov. 3-6, 1869, adopted  the following among its principles: "The Messianic aim of Israel is not the restoration of the old Jewish state under a descendant of David, involving a second separation from the nations of the earth, but the union of all the children of God in the confession of the unity of God, so as to realize the unity of all rational creatures, and their call to moral sanctification."

Similarly, at the Pittsburgh Conference of Nov. 16-18 1885 this was reaffirmed, in the following words: "We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community; and we therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning a Jewish state."

Rabbi Kaufmann Kohler, one of the instigators of the Pittsburgh Platform offered these opinions concerning the possibility of Jewish settlement in Palestine, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia  of 1911:

"He repudiates the idea that Judea is the home of the Jew—an idea which 'unhomes' the Jew all over the wide earth—and holds the entire propaganda a Utopian dream..."

The American Council for Judaism, which represents the modern anti-Zionist faction of reform Judaism, writes:

"For Reform Jews, the idea of Zionism contradicted almost completely their belief in a universal Judaism. The first Reform prayerbook eliminated references to Jews being in exile and to a Messiah who would miraculously restore Jews throughout the world to the historic land of Israel and who would rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem. The prayerbook eliminated all prayers for a return to Zion." 

It is also proud to report:

"For Isaac Mayer Wise, the leader of American Reform Judaism in the 19th century, Zionism was an anathema. He rejected both the premise and conclusion of Zionism that anti-Semitism was an absolute condition in all nation-state’s where Jews were a minority and that a separate nation-state for Jews was thus a necessity. Writing in The American Israelite, Wise declared that, '. . . The Herzl-Nordau scheme appears to be about as important to Judaism as was Pleasanton’s blue grass theory to science or as is Christian Science to medicine. Pleasanton’s empiricism was at least harmless, but Herzl-Nordau’s is so fraught with the possibility of mischief . . . it becomes the duty of every true Jew to take an active part in efforts to destroy it'." (Both citations are from Zionism at 100: Remembering Its Often Prophetic Jewish Critics  Allan C. Brownfeld 1997

On November 27, 2017 Haaretz reported "nearly 300 rabbis from around the world have signed letter expressing 'outrage' at the treatment of non-Orthodox Jews in Israel. Ratcheting up the rhetoric in their battle with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Conservative Jewish leaders released a video Monday with a clear message for the Israeli leader: “Mr. Prime Minister, shame on you. The two-and-a-half-minute clip calls out Netanyahu for the “alternative facts” he presented last week at the annual conference of the Jewish Federations of North America while discussing the recently suspended deal on an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall." 

Naftali Bennet has already given them an egalitarian prayer space in another section of the Temple Mount Wall. Why incite against Netanyahu precisely at this delicate moment when Israel needs unity and  all the support it can get to fight existential threats like Islamic Jihad, Obama's nuclear deal with Iran and the anti-Semitic UNSC 2334 which claims that both the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are in "occupied Palestinian territory"?

A clue to solving this mystery can be found in two other letters also written by similar heterodox Rabbis.

On January 2017 the Jerusalem Post reported "Some 300 Jewish community leaders have signed a letter in support of Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is running to serve as head of the Democratic National Committee."

On August 17, 2015, Arutz Sheva reported "Over 300 rabbis have signed a letter in support of the Iran nuclear accord..."

The signatures in these three petitions may not be exactly the same, but the groups behind them all belong to heterodox, non-Orthodox Jewish groups. Many of the people who are now trying to put the American Jewish community against Netanyahu are the same people who wanted Keith Ellison to lead the DNC and supported Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. 

Organizations like Soros' New Israel Fund and JStreet looking for ways to weaken the support of American Jews for the Israeli  government to weaken Israel's capacity to lobby the Congress against BDS campaigns, the nuclear deal with Iran and UNSC 2334.  It seems they are now shamelessly exploiting the holiness of the Western Wall to weaken Netanyahu's support in America.

Israel is a democracy and most observant Jews in Israel are Orthodox, while proportionally speaking, the number of Reform and Conservative Jews is insignificant in Israel. If they want to change the way things are done in Israel they should move to Israel, become Israeli citizens and vote.  In the meantime, instead of inciting against the Israeli government, they should be grateful that the Israeli government provides security against terrorists at the airport, at the hotels, at the restaurants and at the egalitarian area at the Western Wall created by Naftali Bennet which they refuse to use in order to conduct a shameful propaganda campaign against Netanyahu.

Without security Israel would be like Iraq the Jews would be massacred like the Yazidi. Reform and Conservative Rabbis should stop exploiting the holiness of the Western Wall to incite against the Israeli government for their own political reasons. Shame on you!

Ezequiel Doiny is author of "Obama's assault on Jerusalem's Western Wall"