Jerusalem, 7 October, 2021 (TPS) — Member of Knesset (MK) Gilad Kariv, a member of the Labor party and a Reform rabbi, took advantage of his parliamentary immunity to violate the status quo at Kotel and forcefully introduce a Torah scroll into the women’s section.
Kariv arrived on Thursday morning with a small group of members of the Women of the Wall to conduct their Rosh Chodesh prayers, a monthly event perceived by the majority of worshippers at the holy site as a provocation.
The small group of women read from the Torah as the Orthodox worshippers tried to interrupt the service.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation stated that it asked Kariv not to generate a scene at the holy site, but he refused their request. Its operative then worked to prevent a physical confrontation between the parties and ensured the safety of the Women of the Wall.
“The Foundation regrets the events and calls on all parties to let go of controversy and allow the proper respect for the holy place,” it stated.
Such confrontations between Women of the Wall and Orthodox worshippers occur on a monthly basis, but Kariv’s exploitation of his immunity to contravene local and Knesset guidelines generated a stir in the coalition, of which he is a member, as well as in the opposition.
MK Uri Maklev, of the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, stated that the Women of the Wall are “provocative and law-breaking people. Despite their attempts to present themselves as cultured individuals, their true faces are repeatedly revealed as provocative and law-breaking criminal people. Their whole desire is to separate, divide and quarrel at holy places.”
As for Kariv, “he exploits his immunity and acts as an offender. All the people of Israel see their great fraud. These people have removed themselves from the heritage of Israel for generations. All their doing and desire is to discredit and persecute the rooted Jewish people,” he charged.
MK Nir Orbach, Chairman of the Yemina faction and a member of the coalition, stated that “the introduction of the Torah scroll this morning to help the Women of the Wall, in contrast to the status quo, is a provocative act that demeans and hurts the feelings of sectors.”
He warned that Kariv’s “PR campaign this morning is shoving sticks into the government’s wheels.”
Kariv claimed that the status quo at the Kotel was illegal and that he would continue to defend the rights of the Women of the Wall.
Later at the Knesset, Kariv was forced to stop a debate at the Constitution Committee he chairs after MK Meir Porush (UTJ) entered the debate and recited Psalms, re-reading the same chapters.
“We respect MK Porush’s right to protest. Therefore, we will take a break so that he can complete the reading and we hope that MK Porush will remain even after that for a substantive discussion,” stated Kariv
MK Porush continued to read the Psalms during the break. The Knesset ushers sought to remove him from the room but he refused and sat down on the floor and continued to read Psalms.
He subsequently agreed to leave, yelling at Kariv “I will continue this protest until you get away from the Western Wall. You will not come to the women’s section and I will not come here.”
Porush stated that “the fact that Kariv is taking advantage of his immunity and persuading other people to violate the Western Wall’s orders, despise and trample on the sanctity of the place, is crossing a red line and it is unbearable. It is a disgrace that should be ended.”