The chairman of Arzenu, the Zionist arm of the Progressive Movement in South Africa, has written to the Israeli ambassador in South Africa requesting a meeting to convey the movement’s disappointment at the failure of the Israeli government to fulfil its agreement to provide an egalitarian section of the Kotel.
A public letter from Professor Antony Arkin to Ambassador Arthur Lenk says in part: “Five months ago the Government of Israel approved a plan negotiated over a two-year period by Women of the Wall, the Reform and Conservative movements, the North American Federations and the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate of the Kotel.
“The agreement would expand and solidify an egalitarian presence at the Southern Western Wall … without interference by the Chief Rabbinate or any other Orthodox authority. Since the agreement was signed the government has delayed its implementation due to the pressure from the Ultra-Orthodox parties that are seeking changes to the original agreement that would effectively give control of the space back to the Chief Rabbinate of the Wall.
“The government’s reluctance to move forward with the negotiated agreement is worrisome due to the recent bills presented into the Knesset by the Ultra-Orthodox parties and supported by the Israeli ruling government coalition that would curtail the use of Mikvaot for the purposes of Reform and Conservative conversions. Not moving forward on this plan undermines and contradicts Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement that every Jew should feel at home in Israel.”