Let the Spin Begin

By Leah Aharoni, co-founder of Women For the Wall.

Shira Pruce, PR Director of Women of the Wall, has realized that Women FOR the Wall have changed the dialogue about the Kotel. So she has been creating new PR spins, accusing Women FOR the Wall of inciting violence. In fact, she has been spinning so hard, she has become dizzy, confusing reality with fiction and the past with the present.

In her most audacious attempt at spin yet, she claims that there has been a rise in violence since W4W in her words, began “inciting the haredi community against us.” In her dizziness, she must have forgotten that for the past decade her group has been crying foul over violence towards it.

Strangely, she overlooks what even reporter Shmuel Rosner and Ynet noticed and photographed: Ronit Peskin and me telling charedi boys to leave WOW alone, standing our ground defending the same women whose actions we oppose. Video coverage from last week shows Jenni Menashe, another W4W member doing the same. And of course Pruce conveniently ignores the rounds we made on charedi and National Religious radio stations calling on the community to desist from any violence and to behave with derech eretz.

The real rise in threats has been on the lives of the Chief Rabbis, charedi Knesset members, and the Rabbi of the Wall. Yet WOW conveniently washed their hands off any responsibility and, in a classic victimhood spin, even tried to manipulate the story to imply they were being framed.

It must be that Pruce wants you to believe that the 50 rowdy students in May were an entirely new phenomenon, caused by W4W. The only problem with this claim is that it basically contradicts everything Women of the Wall have been claiming for the past decade (long before we set up W4W two months ago).

In Women of the Wall, Chesler and Haut write that “from the first, [the Women of the Wall] were met with violence.” That book, published in 2002, refers to violence 78 times, and “violent” attacks, responses, aggression, charedim and whatever else, a total of 20 more.

Nor have things changed since then, even in releases from Pruce’s own office just a few months ago. Press Release, February 25, 2013: “Women of the Wall to Sharansky: ‘The way to prevent violence at the Western Wall is stop the violent bullies.’” March 10′s release says that Anat Hoffman called upon police: “to protect Women of the Wall from violence.”

Pruce would now have you believe that none of that ever happened. Today’s truth is that Women for the Wall brought “two months of violence and threats,” rather than two months in which our sincere efforts towards dialogue have been met with scorn, mockery, and character assassination.

This is of a piece with what we’ve always said about Women of the Wall and the stories they tell the media. The “blatant vilification” to which Pruce refers is our penchant for quoting them accurately when they contradict themselves. One WOW board member called the 10,000 women we brought to the Wall both “wonderful” and “a form of violence” within a span of just days.

Most importantly, WOW keeps feeding the world the line that they “simply want to pray according to their custom,” and have no desire to change anyone — while their leaders talk about turning the Wall into a national monument, inciting a revolution, and showing women like ourselves how to change and be more like them. They adjust their story to meet their PR needs of the moment, and hope that you forgot what they wrote last month, last week, or even yesterday.

Est past nisht, Shira Pruce. Then again, maybe you just need a break from all the spinning.