New York (June 26, 2017) – Gideon Aronoff, CEO of Ameinu, North America’s largest grassroots progressive Zionist movement, released the following statement of protest denouncing yesterday’s decision by the Netanyahu government to renege on a compromise deal for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem.
As declared in the Jerusalem Program, the ideological foundation of Zionism, Ameinu is committed to “strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state…with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people…”
All Israelis, regardless of religion or form of practice, deserve equal treatment by the State. It is unacceptable, and a violation of the central vision of Zionism, to discriminate so blatantly against non-Orthodox streams of Judaism. While not perfect, the compromise plan adopted in January 2016 was a good-faith effort to address the needs of all Jews to access Judaism’s most holy place.
The decision to abrogate the agreement shows extreme disregard for the multi-faceted Jewish people. Ameinu affirms that combatting this action should not be left to Reform and Conservative organizations alone, but should be countered by both secular and Orthodox Zionists as well.
Ameinu sees granting full control of the Kotel to Orthodox Jewry as part of a troubling larger discriminatory trend in Israel. Another manifestation is the pending law on conversions, which if passed would ensure the Chief Rabbinate a monopoly and delegitimize all other forms of Jewish practice in Israel.
Already, Ameinu President Kenneth Bob has joined with colleagues from the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel in canceling a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of this outrage. Ameinu pledges to continue the fight for religious pluralism in Israel, not only for religious minorities, but also for all Jewish Israelis, until the vision of the Jerusalem Program is fulfilled. Anything less would be an abdication of what it means to be a Zionist.