MK Gilad Kariv of the Labor party, who purports to represent the Reform movement in the Knesset, has accused the Chief Rabbinate of being behind the clashes that occurred at the “Ezrat Yisrael” section at the Western Wall on Sunday, Tisha b’Av.
Referring to an interview on Reshet Bet with Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau, in which Rabbi Lau asked the public to avoid sinat chinam—baseless hatred, Kariv told Kan News:
“The Chief Rabbi began by speaking about the best way to stop sinat chinam being discourse. I am asking the Chief Rabbi to invite me to his office. To this day, the Chief Rabbis have yet to agree to meet with the leaders of the Reform movement.”
Kariv also referred to the disturbances at the Western Wall in the Ezrat Yisrael section on Sunday. The Ezrat Yisrael section has been designated by the government as a space for “egalitarian” prayer, but on Tisha b’Av, a large number of orthodox Jews arrived there, with a portable barrier to separate between men and women, and prayed there, raising the ire of Reform elements. It should be noted that they did not need to eject any “egalitarian” petitioners from the area in order to hold their prayers, as the area was, as it usually is, empty when they arrived.
“The Chief Rabbi is incapable of uttering even a single sentence to those youths [who prayed in the Ezrat Yisrael section],” Kariv said, “and the reason is clear. The Chief Rabbinate is actually behind the attempts to prevent egalitarian prayer.”
Earlier on Sunday, Rabbi Lau stated that, “There is a tradition of very long standing, dating back many, many years, regarding the form and nature of the prayers there, and it is regrettable that there are those who are attempting to alter this arrangement on a day like this.” Directly addressing progressive elements, Rabbi Lau added, “Please try to speak in a different manner and not on such a significant day as this. Don’t turn this special site into a place of shows of force and violence.”