Women of the Wall, a group of secular activists from liberal Jewish groups, has been making a lot of noise over the Western Wall, the holiest site in traditional Judaism. The group has mainly gotten attention for its obnoxious tactics and the presence of foul-mouthed leftist Sarah Silverman’s sister.
WOW isn’t particularly interested in the Western Wall, a place that has little theological meaning in their liberal religious streams, but is part of a leftist campaign to engage in confrontational and divisive activism inside Israel and champion their social justice religion.
Now Matzav.com has run a Rachel Avraham piece alleging that Women of the Wall’s leaders have ties to Anti-Israel groups.
Jerusalem Online News recently learned that Batya Kallus, Women of the Wall Vice chair, facilitates funding for anti-Israel groups such as Adalah, Ir Amin, Yesh Din, Mossawa, among others, as part of her position as programs officer for the Moriya Fund. NGO Monitor has reported in depth about how these organizations contribute towards the delegitimization of Israel in the world.
Adalah is opposed to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, views Israel to be a colonial state, and has participated in anti-Israel activism via Israel Apartheid Weeks.
Ir Amin supports the division of Yerushalayim, has asserted that Israel’s archaeological digs within the city are a “tool in the fight for control” over the city. They run highly politicized anti-Israel tours of the holy city, which indoctrinate internationals into holding anti-Israel views.
Yesh Din views Israel to be an apartheid state and demonstrated support for Turkey after the Gaza Flotilla incident, even though the Turkish sailors on board the Mavi Marmara ship chanted jihadi slogans and attacked IDF soldiers.
The Moriah Fund also supports the militantly anti-Israel 972 magazine, Breaking the Silence, which accuses Israeli soldiers of war crimes, Sikkuy and B’Tselem, whose leaders and board members have accused Israel of Apartheid and urged sanctions against the Jewish State.
(Moriah also helps fund Peter Beinart’s Open Zion blog, Peace Now, La Raza, Jewish Funds for Justice (aka Bend the Arc) and the Tides Center. )
Anat Hoffman, Chairwoman of Woman of the Wall, also happens to be the chairwoman of the Domari Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem. Her association partners include Yonathan Mizrahi and Dafna Strauss from the Emek Shaveh organization, which calls for an international committee to investigate Israeli archaeological work in Jerusalem and runs archaeology-based anti-Israel tours of the city. The Domari Society of Gypsies is also part of Al Aqsa Grassroots, an anti-Israel network that supports “resistance to the occupation” and is against the “Judaization of Jerusalem,” in addition to supporting the Palestinian right of return to Israel proper.
Which would mean the destruction of Israel.
The critique against Anat Hoffman’s Domari ties misses the point. Hoffman was a member of Women in Black, a left-wing anti-Israel group calling for a deal with the terrorists. Once the deal happened, a JTA piece describes Hoffman wondering where to go next.
Hoffman has appeared at a J Street conference, for the left-wing Anti-Israel lobby. She’s the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Centre, which is funded by the left-wing Anti-Israel group New Israel Fund about which you will learn more shortly.
The material on Batya Kallus, who based on the website, appears to be second-in-command of Women of the Wall is even more damning.
Batya Kallus (vice chair) has been involved with WOW since she moved to Israel in 1991. She is the Israel Advisor to the Fohs Foundation, a private American foundation that funds organizations which advance shared society and equality between Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel, and Program Officer for the Moriah Fund.
The Fohs Foundation is another case of left-wing hijacking. The Foundation had been explicitly set up to be pro-Israel and involved figures like Louis Brandeis, it now partners with various left-wing Anti-Israel groups, including the New Israel Fund and Sikkuy.
Fohs lists Batya Kallus as its Israel Representative, suggesting that she’s a good deal more than an adviser. Fosh’s trustees include “Rabbi” Ruth Sohn, signatory to a letter by the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, a radical Anti-Israel group, which has called for the United States to engage in the ethnic cleansing of Jews from parts of Israel. Sohn’s husband, “Rabbi” Reuven Firestone is the author of “An Introduction to Islam for Jews”
The Fohs Foundation has funded the New Israel Fund, which funds groups that support the boycott and destruction of Israel. The NIF’s Associate Director claimed that Israel would disappear in 100 years and that it would be a good thing. It funds Sikkuy, which participated in Durban and accuses Israel of racism.
The New Israel Fund has provided grants to Women of the Wall and has a good deal of promotional material on its site about WOW. Women of the Wall tells supporters in the US and UK to mail its checks directly to the New Israel Fund.
Batya Kallus’ role with the Fohs Foundation makes it painfully clear that her work with the Moriah Fund is not just “professional” and not a one-time event. There is now a pattern of her involvement in helping Anti-Israel groups defame and destroy the Jewish state.
Leora Bechor, an American left-wing lawyer from Columbia and NYU, is a board member of Women of the Wall, and appears to be a staff attorney for Anat Hoffman’s Israel Religious Action Centre. Bechor also appears to be the staff attorney for Hamoked. Bechor’s name also appears on a Hamoked submission to the UN Human Rights Committee. Hamoked is a radical anti-Israel group. The submission begins by accusing Israel of “the unilateral and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem” and suggests lines of attack for the UNHRC against Israel.
It is impossible to disentangle WOW’s leadership from their involvement in Anti-Israel activities.
Instead of engaging in a dialogue with the Pro-Israel community about its ties to the Anti-Israel left, Women of the Wall has responded with threats and attacks.
The original article was apparently taken down after threats of legal action. It’s not entirely clear why. It doesn’t appear that any of these facts are in any real doubt and can be independently verified by examining the websites of the relevant NGOs. I welcome any effort by WOW to clarify the facts and point out where they are in error.
Shira Pruce, the spokeswoman for Women of the Wall, wrote the following comment…
WOW does not comment on the personal and professional lives on volunteers, nor would any other NGO in good legal standing. These statements constitute slander and libel. The assumption that any of the leaders’ personal or professional lives- be they right wing or left and we have ALL represented on our board- DO NOT effect the non-partisan activity of WOW.
It’s not clear at all that WOW is non-partisan. Not when its two top leaders are members of the hard core Anti-Israel left. Shria Pruce herself has worked as a director at Maslan, the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (Coordinator of the Open Clinic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Health Center) and The Counseling Center for Women, NGOs that appear to be funded by the New Israel Fund and which actually solicit checks to be sent to the NIF.
While these groups appear to be apolitical, the reality is more complex. The The Counseling Center for Women, for example, was co-founded by Ruthie El Raz, one of the co-founders of Women in Black.
And indeed Shria Pruce’s bio tells us that she worked at the New Israel Fund. The NIF, the black widow of the Israel left, has a history of using front groups to pursue its true agenda.
While Women of the Wall has some supposedly traditional and right-of-center members, much of its leadership appears to be partisan and their Anti-Israel activism raises the question of whether Women of the Wall is really seeking to achieve religious ends or to further damage Israel with negative publicity. Their tactics certainly accomplish that goal.
Women should be able to pray at the wall, but that right shouldn’t be hijacked by left-wing activists with a history of undermining Israel.
And Women of the Wall should make it clear what their links are to the New Israel Fund, a group whose associate director was quoted in a Wikileaks cable saying the following.
New Israel Fund (NIF) Associate Director in Israel Hedva Radovanitz, who manages grants to 350 NGOs totaling about 18 million dollars per year commented that she believed that in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.
The NIF has provided money to Women of the Wall and WOW tells supporters in the US and UK to mail its checks directly to the New Israel Fund.
If WOW is genuinely a patriotic and non-partisan group, it would return the NIF cash and refuse to have anything further to do with it. Until that happens, it cannot credibly claim to be patriotic or Zionist.
Instead of making threats, Women of the Wall should stop the obstructionism and come clean.