Route of traditional Tisha B'Av Walk in question

Police to Women in Green: Prepare alternative route for Tisha B'Av Walk; Women in Green: Capitulation to terror.

Mordechai Sones ,

Last year's march
Last year's march
Women in Green

A police official has recommended that heads of Women in Green prepare an alternative route that does not pass through East Jerusalem for their 23rd consecutive Tisha B'Av night Walk. In response, attorney Aviad Hacohen has joined Women in Green’s efforts to safeguard the walk's traditional route.

The movement's leaders, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, received a telephone call from a police official who told the two to be prepared to change the walk's route to bypass East Jerusalem. This would negate the walk's entire purpose which is to surround the walls of the city as an expression of the longing of the Jewish people for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount on Tisha B'Av night.

Women in Green views the police announcement as a surrender and reward to terrorism. "For 23 years, the walk has taken place unhindered, despite warnings and fears, and despite years when the month of Ramadan fell during the walk, the marchers proceeded with no provocation or friction with the Arab population, and there is no reason to restrict the walk now. If, heaven forbid, the walk's route is changed, it will comprise a reward to the rioters and murderers. ... It is inconceivable that the deeds of rioters and murderers would lead to punishing the victims of terrorist attacks and prevent them from practicing a tradition of hundreds of years ... Now is precisely the time to act as in every year and prove that terrorism will not defeat the eternal people,” Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar wrote in a joint statement.

Attorney Aviad Hacohen has joined the efforts of Women in Green to keep the traditional route of the Walk intact. Attorney Hacohen accompanied the legal struggle 23 years ago, when the police sought to refrain from approving the walk's route. At that time, Prof. Hacohen petitioned the High Court and won. The Court ordered the police to approve the walk as planned. Now, 23 years later, Hacohen sent a letter to Police Commander Yoram Halevy, in which he clarifies the absurdity of the idea of restricting the traditional walk. The text of the letter is as follows:

Commander Yoram Halevi

District Commander

Israel Police


Peace and Blessings,

Subject: the Annual March of “Women for Israel’s Tomorrow” – Tisha b’Av Eve

1. I hereby address you concerning this matter on behalf of my clients, Ms. Nadia Matar, Ms. Yehudit Katsover and the movement, “Women for Israel’s Tomorrow” – following the request that they served, to hold the organization’s traditional walk.

2. As you well know, this walk has been held for the past 23 years on the eve of the 9th of Av, as planned and as scheduled. This is a continuation of a religious, national tradition hundreds of years old, encircling the walls of the Old City and the Temple Mount on the 9th of Av, which is documented in various halakhic and historical sources.

3. Throughout the years, the procession has proceeded in a very orderly fashion, as the participants realized their right to freedom of expression with the police fulfilling its role in defending them and keeping the public order, and my clients thank you for this.

4. As every year, my clients served their request to the competent authorities in advance.

5. Included in the request is the detailed route of the walk, which does not differ from the route that has been approved in previous years.

6. Moreover: Despite the fact that in previous years – because of variations in the Muslim calendar – the month of Ramadan occurred on 9th of Av, creating concern among security authorities – a concern that has not been substantiated – that public order would be disturbed, and the walk has proceeded peacefully.

7. Despite this, my clients have received by telephone a “discussion of clarification” from a police official who recommended that despite the walk having been held for past decades on a fixed route, in light of increasing tensions in Jerusalem, my clients must now plan for the walk to take a route that “will not pass at all through the eastern part of the city”.

8. The police official did not specify how he knows at this time what the exact degree of the expected “tensions” will be, in another two weeks, on the night of the 9th of Av eve (and the tension, as we know, unfortunately, has been characteristic of Jerusalem on many days of the year, for many years), or the meaning of the “early, blanket warning” – not to mention the severe blow to freedom of expression, demonstration, assembly, and procession – meaning that the walk will not be allowed to pass at all through the eastern part of the city, and this, two weeks in advance, when no one yet knows what the situation will be at that time.

9. With all due respect, this type of “warning” is out of place and contradicts all basic principles of democratic governance and rule of law worthy of its name.

10. In a way this announcement is asserting not only that there will be disturbances, but to some degree a prize will be given to those who disturb the public order. And instead of enforcing the law for them, the ones to be “punished” are those who only request to realize their right to freedom of expression and hold the traditional walk that has existed for many hundreds of years.

11. Needless to say – and as we have noted in our appeal to you in previous years – the route of the walk around the walls of the city and their surroundings is not incidental.

12. Beyond continuing the tradition of many years, this walk is an expression of the right of the Jewish People in Jerusalem and the sovereignty of the State of Israel in it. This walk is also an expression of Jerusalem being – in each of its sections, the east and the west alike – one of Israel's prime national assets.

13. For all of these reasons, and to alleviate my clients’ concerns, we therefore request you clarify unambiguously, unequivocally, that the police will not harm the right of my clients and their associates to realize their freedom of expression and procession, and that they will be able to walk this year as well, on the traditional route of the walk, which is specified in the request that they have served to you.

14. In light of the proximity of the planned event, we request that you respond to us on this matter as soon as possible, so that my clients will be able to plan their next steps, literally.

15. Needless to say, my clients greatly appreciate your contribution to the peace of Jerusalem and in keeping public law and order within the city, a goal and objective we all share.

With great respect and blessings,

Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Atty.

Because the police decision may arrive at the very last minute on Monday, a perception that many Jews want to walk may positively affect the outcome. For this reason, Women in Green has decided that no matter what, they will gather en masse at 9:00pm on Monday at Independence Park for the Eicha (Lamentations) reading. "We urge people to go there and show the police how important this traditional walk is. The more people show up at Eicha at 9:00pm the better," said Matar.

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of the city, the planned walk will be dedicated to joint cooperation with Diaspora Jews. Women in Green has called upon Jews around the world and offered them the opportunity to participate in a live broadcast on the movement's Facebook page. A contribution of at least $100, that will be used to finance the walk, will entitle the donor to have his name on a sign held by the participants in the walk, and have a message read, if he so wishes, on his behalf during the event.

Women in Green will update as to further developments.

This year, the public figures who will participate and talk at the annual Walk are: Minister Zeev Elkin, minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Environmental protection; Dep. Minister of Defense Mk Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan; MK Yehuda Glick; Menahem Aby Levi who participated in the liberation of Jerusalem; Yishai Fleisher international spokesman for the Hevron community; Jacques Kupfer who chairs Israel is Forever and Arieh Klein, historian.

Connect to Jerusalem-register your name and be part of the Walk.