A Teachable Moment for American Jews? By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, June 14, 2013.
Why Palestinians Block Wall Changes. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, June 13, 2013.
dispute between the Women of the Wall and Orthodox authorities is a significant
issue that can poison the relationship between Israel and the vast majority of
American Jews who affiliate with non-Orthodox denominations. But the PA’s
pronouncement is a reminder that the real fight in Jerusalem is not between
Jews. So long as Palestinians are determined to reverse the verdict of history
and return Jews to a subordinate status in their ancient capital, the spat
between Jewish factions will have to wait.
liberal American Jews have two main demands of Israel: They want it to
recognize the non-Orthodox denominations, and they want it to make peace with
the Palestinians, right now. The latter demand isn’t confined to fringe
anti-Israel activists; it’s routinely voiced by long-time Israel supporters
like Rabbi Eric Yoffie or Leon Wieseltier. So I’d like all these Jews to
seriously consider this question: When these two primary demands conflict, what
do you do–capitulate to the PA in the interests of “peace” and give up on being
able to pray at the Western Wall in your own fashion, or insist on your rights
at the Wall at the cost of further antagonizing the Palestinians, for whom
modifications of the Western Wall Plaza are no less objectionable than new
outposts in the heart of the West Bank?
no less wrenching confront Israel every day in dealing with the Palestinians,
but because they don’t affect American Jews directly, the latter are often too
quick to accuse Israel of being intransigent over a trivial point it should
just concede in the name of peace. They deplore Israel’s refusal to agree to a
border roughly along the 1967 lines, not understanding the enormous security
risks this creates; they deplore Israel’s refusal to release murderers to woo
the Palestinians to the negotiating table, not understanding the major role
freed prisoners have repeatedly played in fomenting new terrorism; they deplore
Israel’s reluctance to redivide Jerusalem, not understanding how unlikely it is
that the city would remain open afterward, or how devastating a repartition
would therefore be.
Jews won’t understand the details of these issues any better after confronting
their own Palestinian dilemma over the Western Wall. But just maybe, they’ll
understand that dealing with the Palestinians isn’t quite so simple as they
seem to think it is. And if so, the Palestinians will have done a great service
to Israel’s relationship with American Jewry.