April 14, 2013 | 8:08 am
The reason I'm still writing about Women of the Wall and the Kotel compromise (you can see last week’s posts on this matter here and here) is because I truly think it's important and even dramatic. What Natan Sharansky proposed is going to change the status of progressive/egalitarian/ moderate/non-Orthodox – call it whatever name you want – Judaism in Israel. Since all sides essentially said that they support the deal, it should be only a matter of time until it's implemented. That is, if there are no new obstacles to prevent it and if the Israeli government is serious.
What are the possible obstacles to implementing the deal?
Since the compromise is built around the expansion of the Kotel and the construction of a new "platform" that will serve as its southern section, it must take time to get to the actual implementation. A lot of the preparatory planning work is already done, but more work is needed, and the process can't be very short, even before we count the construction work. A lot could happen between the current planning phase and the point in which people can actually pray in the southern section. How can progressive supporters of the deal make sure that they are not deceived, that the government truly means it, and that they aren't paying with patience for a product that will never come to fruition?
There are answers, but they all begin with a simple acknowledgment: the leaders of the battle – both grassroots and established – are still very much in doubt as to the true intentions of Prime Minister Netanyahu. They don't trust him. They won’t count on Sharansky's word, not even on Bibi’s word – they want proof. Some of them call it "down payment", others are talking about a "seriousness fee". The idea is the same: while the government can't provide the ultimate arrangement instantly, there are things that can be done to demonstrate its seriousness and commitment. Three examples of such possible demonstrations:
Thus far, all parties involved were smart enough to accept the deal, but not all of them did it because they think it's wonderful or because they think it will be executed. Some of them just didn't want to be the naysayer and hope that the government can be trusted to botch it – saving them the trouble of being seen as trouble makers. One would hope that the dynamics of this process will make it harder for these participants to suddenly turn on their heels and oppose what they now say they support. Clearly, if this deal fails, the next move for Israeli progressives will be to head right back to court, and this time they will be armed with even more proof that the government doesn't have clean hands and isn’t doing enough to find an acceptable solution to this unacceptable reality.
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