In January 2016, the Israeli Government approved a plan to establish a large, state-recognized egalitarian section at the southern end of the Western Wall, which would be accessible from the main Western Wall complex. This plan was created with central involvement of the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky. In June 2016, as the plan’s implementation had not progressed, Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated his promise and commitment to this initiative. At the 2016 Biennial of the Zionist Federation of Australia, a resolution was passed calling on the Government of Israel to proceed with implementing this egalitarian prayer space. On Sunday, June 25 2017, the Government announced that it would formally freeze the proposal, leaving it effectively abandoned under the current Government.
- AFFIRMS its commitment as the peak body of the Victorian Zionist community to supporting and urging the establishment of an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel
- ENDORSES the call by the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency to create such a plan to ensure the Kotel can be utilised by world Jewry of all religious denominations as “one wall for one people”.
- MAINTAINS its commitment to pluralism within the framework of the Zionist movement, as defined by its Constitution and the Jerusalem Program
- BELIEVES that the Kotel should be a place for all Jews around the world
- ENDORSES in full the resolution of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel of 27th June 2017 (Appendix A)
- DEPLORES equally the proposed conversion bill which would diminish the Jewish and Zionist identity of many Jews of a non-Orthodox background
- RESOLVES to write an open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, urging him to rescind the Government’s decision not to proceed to establish an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel; and to abandon the conversion bill.
Moved: Dean Sherr
Seconded: Jeremy Leibler
APPENDIX A: JAFI RESOLUTION
Whereas the Jewish Agency for Israel, representing world Jewry through its constituent members, the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod, is gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, the liberation of the Western Wall and the founding of the Zionist movement in Basel 120 years ago; and
Whereas the Jewish Agency for Israel throughout its history has been the organization responsible for bringing olim to the State of Israel and connecting Israel and world Jewry; and
Whereas the proposed conversion bill that would cement the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on conversion has the devastating potential to permanently exclude hundreds of thousands of Israelis from being a part of the Jewish people; and
Whereas we deplore yesterday’s decision by Government of Israel which contradicts the agreement reached with the Jewish Agency and other parties to establish the Kotel as a unifying symbol for Jews around the world, as stated: ‘ONE WALL FOR ONE PEOPLE’; and
Whereas the Government of Israel’s decisions have a deep potential to divide the Jewish people and to undermine the Zionist vision and dream of Herzl, Ben-Gurion, and Jabotinsky to establish Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people; and
Whereas we declare that we cannot and must not allow this to happen and we are committed to mobilizing our constituencies for their continued support of the people and state of Israel;
Therefore, be it resolved that
We call upon each Member of the Knesset and all elected public officials to take all necessary action to ensure that these dangerous and damaging steps are halted; and
We will continue to build a broad coalition of Israelis, together with partners from around the world, who care passionately about keeping our people united and who are committed to the unity of the Jewish people; and
We call upon the Government of Israel to understand the gravity of its steps and reverse its course of action accordingly.