May 20, 2019

Who Loves the Western Wall?

“About 10 million people visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City every year, and yet among the questions I am asked most frequently is, “Why do you care so much about the Kotel?”

I, for one, maintain this fixation in good company. MK Avigdor Liberman (Israel Beytenu) has prioritized the Western Wall as part of his conditions to enter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

According to media reports, Liberman related to the Western Wall compromise agreement by saying, “The compromise is not demonstrably in opposition to Torah and Jewish law. The government voted in favor, including the PM and ministers [Naftali] Bennett and [Ayelet] Shaked. Annulling the Kotel agreement presents a severe threat to Israel-Diaspora relations.”

Liberman, far from a liberal spokesperson, shares with Women of the Wall a key foundational understanding about the Western Wall’s impactful position, especially within Israeli-Diaspora discourse. Liberman’s stubbornness on the matter is revealing. The MK, who represents a right-wing party, appreciates the significance of this holy site and its magnetic energy to attract both conflict and connection. But how do I respond to the incessant question, “But why are you so hung up on the Kotel?” in my own words? The answer, surprisingly, is in the swimming pool.”

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