Ultra-Orthodox MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) on Thursday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the Women of the Wall prayer service, asserting the Jewish worshipers are “no less dangerous” than the arsonists who torched a church in northern Israel earlier that day.
The Haredi lawmaker referred to the nondenominational prayer group’s use of Torah scrolls in its monthly service at the Western Wall as a “hate crime” against the ultra-Orthodox community.
“The rioters who harmed the Western Wall, holy to the Jews, are no less dangerous than the rioters who damaged the Christian site on the Sea of Galilee — not to draw a comparison,” Eichler said, according to the Kikar Hashabat news website.
The Women of the Wall held their monthly service on Thursday, smuggling a Torah scroll into the women’s section for the third month in a row.
“The rioters in both places are contemptible and are liable to cause hate crimes in Israel and in the world. All those who condemn, and rightfully so, hate crimes against Christians and understand that it may lead to bloodshed, must condemn the hate crime against the Jewish Haredim. Against the holy Torah scrolls at the Western Wall,” he stated.
The criticism came hours after Netanyahu spoke out against another Haredi lawmaker, Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay, over comments in which he reportedly called Reform Jews “a disaster for the people of Israel,” while speaking out against Women of the Wall.
Netanyahu said he strongly disagreed with the statement.
“As he has done in the past, the prime minister will ensure that Israel remains a place where all Jews can feel at home,” a statement from his office wrote.
Netanyahu and politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the torching of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in what police suspect was an arson attack.
Firefighting crews successfully doused the blaze. Two people who were in the building suffered minor smoke inhalation.
In an entrance corridor of the building, believed by Christians to be the site of Jesus’s miracle of multiplying two fish and five loaves to feed 5,000 people, Hebrew graffiti was found, reading, “The false gods will be eliminated” — a quote from Jewish liturgy.
Earlier this week, Bonna Devora Haberman, the founder of the Women of the Wall, died of cancer.