Women of the Wall Leaders Work With Anti-Israel Groups


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.

  • John La Frieda

    “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. ” Hmmm, They stated that Israel is racist? Well, THIS sounds like racism to me. I guess WOW is the one FULL of racists and NOT the Jews!

  • motherofbeaver

    Like the twisted feminazis, they are dyfunctional malcontents, maladjusted misfits, and self-haters who I really believe have a death wish. The rest do it because they can show the world how wonderfully tolerant they are and because it’s a living.

  • Veracious_one

    Are ‘Women of the Wall’ related to ‘Code Pink’?

  • Veracious_one

    When you start connecting the dots it would appear that ‘Women of the Wall’ could be a terrorist hate organization….

  • lyone

    This is so disappointing. I used to believe in their cause….but they have strayed so far away from prayer for women. Now it is all about hating their fellow Jews. I have to apologize to everyone I have ever spoken to about this group. At the time, I genuinely thought they were only about trying to find a place to pray. I was so wrong.

    • Rachel

      You do realise that this article is slander? All of WOW leadership have private lives and work or volunteer at other organisations. All these organizations are legal, recognized Israeli institutions. How can Women of the Wall be anti-Israel when we bring thousands of Jews to pray in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital? How can our leadership be anti-Israel when we served in the army, our children serve in the army? One of our leaders still does yearly reserve duty in her combat unit!
      These accusations are an insult to the intelligence and good will of our supporters. The writer of this article has set up a fallacious strawman argument : WOW leader X works for organization Y. I decide that Y is anti-Israel. (it’s his *opinion* that said organization is anti-Israel). Ergo WOW is anti-Israel.
      I live in Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement over the green line. I’m a WOW leader. Therefore Women of the Wall supports settlement activity?
      No. Because Women of the Wall is a registered NGO with a specific agenda, free prayer for women at the Kotel. We have nothing, absolutely nothing to say about settlements. Our members span the political spectrum, we could never, ever be anti-Israel because we ARE Israel. We are Israeli patriots in every sense of the word.

      • Daniel Greenfield

        Your response is oddly similar to that of Shira Pruce, your PR director.

        It also fails to address the article’s relevant points about the Anti-Israel organization that WOW’s top two board members are involved with.

        Or WOW’s financing from an Anti-Israel group.

        Maaleh Adumim is not exactly Kfar Tapuach. And you’re a member of a liberal movement that spends its time campaigning for liberal causes.And you describe yourself as left-wing.

        So much for spanning the spectrum.

        • Rachel

          My response is not ‘oddly’ similar to that of Shira Pruce, the PR director of my beloved organization, Women of the Wall. My response is naturally and purposely similar! Women of the Wall are a close knit team of women working to achieve full prayer rights for women at the Kotel. When it comes to left-right politics we disagree – but when it comes to declaring our patriotism and our positive contribution to the State of Israel we speak with one voice.

          *You* have decided that NIF and other liberal organizations are anti-Israel.

          That is *your* opinion.

          NIF and the other organizations are legal, registered NGOs in Israel.

          WOW members are proud of their record of non-violent and legal activism for free prayer at the Kotel. The WOW leadership is composed of women who naturally are involved in other liberal causes – I am sorry if you don’t like those causes – but since all those causes (IRAC, NIF, Moriyah fund etc.) are fully legal in this great Democratic country of ours, there is nothing our leadership needs to answer for.

          And now we get to your real accusation: I am left-wing. Guilty as charged!!

          It is *your opinion* that left wing means anti-Israel. Well I have news for you. Israel is a Democratic country.

          People are entitled to hold different political views. The right wing may currently be in power – but yes, left wing people exist – even as proud settlers.

          I believe strongly in Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and in the need to preserve our religion and culture and our historic right to all of the land of Israel. My volunteer leadership of Women of the Wall is part of my contribution to this vision.

          • Daniel Greenfield

            Your response uses the same talking points as your PR director which suggests coordinated damage control.

            We’re not talking about legal or illegal. But pro-Israel or Anti-Israel.

            Is this what you would consider pro-Israel?

            “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”

            If so that speaks volumes about Women of the Wall, since as you’ve said, you speak with one voice.

            People are entitled to hold different views, but they should be honest about them.

            WOW isn’t being honest and your responses have been typically misleading.

          • Rachel

            Even when I say that yes, I am speaking together with Shira Pruce our PR director in one voice you insist on turning that into some conspiracy. Yes, yes, yes we are coordinated – you have a problem with that? You have a problem with a united group of strong, determined, intelligent women fighting for a cause we passionately believe in? You won’t be able to fool people – these accusations will backfire on you – lies always come back to bite the liar. The headlines you are creating insinuate that Women of the Wall is an anti-Israel organization. Well we can’t be anti-Israel because we *are* in Israel, paying taxes, serving in the IDF, putting our lives and our children’s lives on line for this country. We are not ‘linked’ to anti-Israel organizations. NIF is not anti-Israel – you may think it is and you can make up as many quotes as you want about it – but no NGO in Israel stays one for long if it doesn’t conform to all the legalities. I don’t know of any country – and Israel is no exception that would license a non-profit that is against the country. That is why we talk about legal or illegal. You are the one who needs to be honest and transparent. After all, we are a public organization – information about us is freely available to all – there is lots of information on our website and a phone number/e-mail to use to ask any questions you may have. You can also request information about us from the NGO registrars office in Israel. Here is a great article with even more information on the organizations that our leadership is involved in. http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-tired-tricks-of-demonization/

          • Daniel Greenfield

            You’re hiding behind the same talking points and trading in personal attacks while refusing to address specifics.

            There are Knesset members who call for the destruction of Israel and support terrorists. So the statement that the NGOs, some of which are just as bad, are “legal” means very little.

            In a free country, all sorts of terrible organizations can be “legal”.

            And Women of the Wall leaders appear to be associated with some terrible organizations. And some like Leora, appear to be straight out hostile to a Jewish presence in Jerusalem.

            The NIF quote is not made up. It comes directly from a diplomatic cable.

            But again you appear to have no interest in discussing specifics and just trotting out more of your generic PR “We are Israel” talking points.

      • Leah

        Rachel, you cannot in all honesty argue on one site the Batya Kallus’s Sikkuy (which signed its name on a document accusing Israel of using the Holocaust to rob Palestinians of their land) is an amazing organization, and in the same breathe flaunt your settler credentials.

        • Rachel Ann

          That is a fallacy. Someone from the organization signed, but the organization did not. Unless you think that Harvard, Bar-Ilan University and Writer also signed the document, as their organizations/professions are also on the document. Was it sloppy journalism or did the journalist hoped no one would check facts? Furthermore, by strengthening the Jewish hold on the Robinson’s Arch, building up the area without destroying the archaeological evidence of Jewish presence, and placing a plaque up to commemorate the LIBERATION of the kotel by the paratroopers, making the area accessible to disabled Jews, and desirable to all Jews we are strengthening the claim of Jews everywhere to Jerusalem as a Jewish nation. I am a settler and I’m not planning on leaving unless they kick me out, or unless I go to another settlement, or “East” Jerusalem, “East” in quotes because to me there is only one Jerusalem, united and whole. Many women have told me that the morality police have caused them to abandon the kotel. Women have been brought back to the kotel by WOW.

  • defcon 4

    Does anyone ever bother to investigate the funding sources of these various anti-Israel (and really antisemitic) hate groups? I’d be shocked, just shocked if the funding sources turned out to be islam0fascist in nature.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      In Israel, a lot of it is the NIF which draws money from all the usual US suspects like George Soros and some EU NGOs

  • TheOrdinaryMan

    If this were a sane world, Batya Callous would be put in jail; as a domestic enemy.

  • Shira Pruce

    We cannot be anti-Israel because in our diversity and our pluralism we ARE Israel. We are left and right and center. We are grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters. We are religious and traditional on many levels but we also have many secular supporters. We pay taxes; we serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). We are sabras (born in Israel) and olim (moved to live in Israel from abroad). We are Zionists, though we probably each have our own definition of what it means to believe in a just Jewish state.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      That’s a slogan, not a serious response. Your leadership is linked to Anti-Israel groups. Some like Leora militantly so.

      Your cut and paste response could just as easily be used to defend any Israeli left-wing group– even the most extreme ones.