Mixed-gender prayer section controversy undercuts pro-Israel advocacy
Relations between the United States And Israel have succeeded after the Israeli government scrapped plans for a joint section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, also known as the Kotel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government pledged last year to seek the measure that would allow men and women to pray together in a special section of the holiest site of Judaism.
But ending these plans could have a widespread impact.
“This puts pressure on US [Israeli] support, particularly among young people,” said Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress.
At the heart of Netanyahu’s decision – technically, a selection of orthodox prayer in the practices of conservative or reformist Judaism – is the alliance of his Likud party with ultra-Orthodox parties.
Likud has only 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset, but controls a majority government with 66 seats through these alliances.
In Israel, 22% of Jews are Orthodox and tend to vote as a bloc, but the United States, only 10% are Orthodox, according to the Pew Research Center.
And politically, American Jews tend to be more liberal than the Netanyahu government alliance.
This has made Netanyahu’s decision a difficult pill to swallow for the defenders of the United States.
“Washington’s policy in Israel is becoming increasingly difficult,” Rosen said.
Pro-Israeli rights groups have always operated on the idea that US support for the country, deeply rooted in direct support of the American Jewish community, is essential to the security of the Jewish state.
“I think the reason most Americans support Israel is because of what Americans know Israel is a country of shared values, democracy in a region where it stands out among all others, and has Much sense to support this country, “he added.
But with the ever more secular and liberal Jewish diaspora, Israel is more resistant to its records of civil and human rights among the Jews of the world.
“You could hardly find a better way to make a circle between Israel and the Jews of the world,” wrote Gershom Gorenberg, an Israeli historian and journalist, in an edition of The Washington Post.
However, Netanyahu’s calculation seems to have more to do with local politics than Israel’s place in the world. While all Jews have the right to be citizens or diaspora Jews, neither Israeli Israelis have the right to vote abroad.
Rosen and other pro-Israel supporters, this amounts to a miscalculation, given the importance of US support for Israel.
“How many people can differentiate decisions about Kotel and [ultra-orthodox]?
“[N] of us understand why this is more a political act than an act to go with most Israelis or diaspora Jews, it will be understood that,” he said.
Israel Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) sent to President Lillian Pinkus and CEO Howard Kohr to meet Netanyahu in protest against the measure last week.
“The Kotel belongs to all Jews around the world, it’s not a self-appointed segment,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in The Jerusalem Post.
“This decision is a setback for Jewish unity and the essential ties that bind Israel and the Jews of America, the two largest centers of Jewish life in the world.”
US Ambassador David Freidman has repeatedly criticized the move, but urged all parties to “resolve this issue by consensus.”
US support for Israel extends far beyond the Jewish community and has traditionally been a bipartisan affair, but Rosen said decisions like Netanyahu’s reversal in joint prayer make it increasingly difficult to progressively connect.
“Especially in the Democratic Party, we see a support group whose progressive for Israel, we lose,” he said.
Rosen said defenders must educate Americans and political leaders when most Israelis are on the issue.