The draft bill “to maintain the sanctity of the Western Wall and its plaza,” which is now being promoted by Shas, United Torah Judaism, Habayit Hayehudi and MK Oren Hazan (Likud) — a spiritual authority unto himself — will turn me and those like me into a criminal.

If God forbid I open a Torah scroll in the prayer area of the Kotel, which will be “any area to be determined in the future by the religious affairs minister,” I can expect six months in prison, even before I utter a word. If I read from the scroll, if I dare to pray together with my male and female friends, if I wrap myself in a tallit (prayer shawl), if I want to hold any civil ceremony on this plaza that doesn’t find favor in the eyes of the Kotel rabbi, who according to the proposed law will be the new sovereign of the site — I will find myself being led away to the police station, praying that I will be given concurrent prison terms for my various criminal offenses.

This draft bill wants to turn Israel into the only Western country where Jews do not have freedom of religion and conscience. It is anti-democratic in the most profound sense possible. If it passes it will impose the Orthodox clerical tyranny of a religious minority, which is part of an incidental political majority, on a huge group of Jews who do not support this tyranny.