The Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism has commenced a public campaign in response to the freezing of the Kotel resolution and promotion of the Conversion Bill by the Israeli Government.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, IMPJ CEO, has shared images of its major billboard campaign on the Ayalon freeway. The signs read: "A Jew does not expel a Jew ... from the Kotel", borrowing form the slogan used during the 2006 disengagement from Gaza by people who opposed it, in order to emphasise the gravity of the matter and bring the issue back to the public discourse in Israel.
Immediately following the government decisions about the Kotel and Conversion Bill, the IMPJ organised a protest rally in front of Prime Minister Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, attended by more than 2,000 people across the religious spectrum. The IMPJ is developing proposals for a long-term strategy and are implementing their short-term strategy now by intensifying a public campaign taking place from now to the end of the High Holy Day period. Additional planned strategies include town hall meetings in central cities and radio and social media campaigns.
Rabbi Kariv provided the following full report:
I would like to update you regarding our public campaign taking place in response to the freezing of the Kotel resolution and promotion of the Conversion Bill by the government in early July. First of all, below is a description of what we have done over the past six weeks:
Immediately following these two decisions, we organized a protest rally in front of Prime Minster Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Motzei Shabbat, which was attended by over 2,000 people from across the religious spectrum. Since then, we have advanced a number of other steps to make clear to the government that their actions are absolutely unacceptable and will not remain unanswered. This included picketing at central intersections across the country and intense work with the media. During this period we have developed proposals both for a long-term strategy to be carried out by a wide coalition of organizations and a short-term strategy which we are implementing now, in coordination with our partners.
As we approach the beginning of the month of Elul and the discussion in the Supreme Court on August 31st, we have made a decision to significantly intensify our public campaign over the next two months- from now to the end of the high holiday period. We began this week with the launching of a major billboard campaign on the Ayalon freeway, reading “A Jew does not expel a Jew… from the Kotel”, borrowing from the slogan used during the 2006 disengagement from Gaza by people who opposed it, in order to emphasize the gravity of the matter and bring the issue back to the public discourse in Israel, leading towards the Supreme Court deliberation on the Kotel resolution next Thursday, August 31 which we will be attending en-masse. Last week we began working with a top level Israel public relations firm, Ben Horin-Alexandrovich, who helped us develop the idea of the highway signs referred to above. Their main task over the coming weeks will be to implement a public opinion survey, including focus groups, to help us develop strategy and messaging for the continuation of the campaign.
This morning, we supported Women of the Wall as they held their Rosh Hodesh Elul service. At the end of the service we all gathered together in the Plaza to blow the Shofar and sing “HaTikvah.” While happily there were no major incidents during the service (other than being harassed while singing the national anthem) , a number of North American female HUC rabbinical students were harassed at the entrance as they were forced by Western Wall Heritage Foundation security guards to go to a side room and have a full body search. This, of course, is outrageous and in fact, against the law, following a Supreme Court ruling back in January. I invite you to watch a video of one of the students describing the incident on our Facebook page.
Over the next two months, we will be continuing in these efforts and others, highlights of which include:
Below and attached are two photos: one of the campaign slogan as a banner, and a photo of the billboard signs, as they appear on the Ayalon freeway.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your leadership, partnership and support during these trying times. I know that all of you are working hard in making our mutual case in a variety of ways in your communities. We are undoubtedly being faced with a nissayion (trial), but I have no doubt that together, we will pull through and come out stronger as an Israeli and world movement.
We will continue to keep you posted as further developments unfold. Please feel free to pass this message on to whoever you wish.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv