I was in Jerusalem for a week last month, and I never once went to the Kotel. This was unusual for me. On my many prior stays in Israel, the ancient stones of the Western Wall were like a magnet, drawing me close and stripping away my journalistic skepticism, leaving me feeling a little more connected to the spiritual yearning that prompts so many of us to place notes in the crevices and prayers in the air.
But this time, instead of being drawn to what is considered the most sacred site in Judaism, I felt repelled. The unwillingness of the Israeli government to follow through on its promise to expand the Kotel plaza to include a proper egalitarian prayer space left me resentful and alienated.
If the Kotel didn’t want to welcome Jews like me — well, then I had better uses of my time in Jerusalem.
… So now, a year after nothing, the time for pleading and exhortation may be over.
It may be time for Jewish religious and communal leaders to follow the suggestion of Elazar Stern, a Knesset member from the centrist Yesh Atid party and a former major general in the Israel Defense Forces, who in a January 12 opinion piece boldly urged a boycott — of Israeli leaders.
Whenever he meets with leaders from the Diaspora, “I tell them they must insist that these issues be dealt with immediately,” Stern wrote.
“And until that happens, I say to them, ‘You need to stop inviting them as guests of honor to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Jewish Federation conferences. Even if you really need them — and I know you need them — hold back for just two years. It won’t take longer than that for them to see that they need you even more than you need them.”