Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks

Rachel Avraham: “All of my facts regarding Women of the Wall were double-checked and cross referenced”

What is the common denominator between anti-Zionist groups such as “ Adalah,” which is opposed to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,  ” Ir Amin,” which supports the division of Jerusalem,  Yesh Din which views Israel to be an apartheid state, and a group calling itself “Women of The Wall?  One woman, Batya Kallus, Women of the Wall Vice chair, facilitates funding for some of the above anti-Israel groups, among others, as part of her position as programs officer for the Moriah Fund.

And how about Anat Hoffman, Chairwoman of Woman of the Wall, also being the chairwoman of the Domari Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem?   The Domari Society of Gypsies is also part of Al Aqsa Grassroots, an anti-Israel network that supports “resistance to the occupation” and is against the “Judaization of Jerusalem,” in addition to supporting the Palestinian right of return to Israel proper. Hoffman’s association partners include Yonathan Mizrahi and Dafna Strauss from the Emek Shaveh organization, which calls for an international committee to investigate Israeli archaeological work in Jerusalem and runs archaeology-based anti-Israel tours of the city.  Is this merely a co-incidence?

An Israeli-American investigative journalist, political analyst and news editor, Rachel Avraham, ran an article exposing the reprehensible association among these groups. She has brought many of the pieces of the puzzle together and connected dots by providing links and substantiating her claims and allegations with proof, which was published on the Jewish Press website. Naturally, Women of the Wall and their spokesperson are not happy about it.

They have launched a campaign to besmirch Mrs. Avraham’s name, threatened a law suit against news organizations that published the story prior to the Jewish Press, and accused her of carrying out a ” McCarthy-esque crusade” against them.   Furthermore, they denied their threats against news organizations, even though Avraham possesses email evidence that they threatened, who reprinted the story.  

According to the email in question, Women of the Wall spokeswoman Shira Pruce stated, “Please remove the “article” by Rachel Avraham posted on your site here  According to our lawyers, the statements made by the writer, which are fictitious, constitute slander and libel. Aside from violating journalistic ethics, the association of Matzav with this piece of writing is a stain on your reputation and integrity as a news source.”   Once they saw that not only would not budge but that the story spread to the Jewish Press, Arutz Sheva, the Times of Israel, Front Page Magazine, among other sources, they switched tactics from threats to defamation of the author.   

Pruce, referring to Avraham as a blogger instead of as a journalist, news editor and political analyst, asserted that Avraham’s internet presence “implies that she herself has political biases and associations which call into question her ability to report honestly on this subject.”   Avraham stated in response, “I don’t know what associations and biases she is referring to.   First of all, I am not Haredi and have never worked for a Haredi organization.   In fact, I grew up in a liberal American Jewish family in Rockville, MD, which attended Washington Hebrew Congregation, a famous Reform synagogue in Washington, DC.  While within the past year I decided to become modern orthodox, I have plenty of friends who are secular and I respect all forms of worship, since most of my family is still Reform and I have always been a tolerant person.  I have no problem if the Women of the Wall people have their own place to pray in their own section at the Kotel.”

“My only problem with them as a woman, a Jew and a feminist is their leaderships’ connection to anti-Israel groups, their lack of respect for one of the holiest places in Judaism by choosing to engage in political provocations there instead of sticking solely to spiritual activity, and that they focus on the Kotel issue to the exclusion of much more important women’s rights issues, such as female genital mutilation, honor crimes, bride burnings in India, and the mass rapes occurring in Syria,” she stated.  

Avraham, prior to starting her journalist career, worked for a series of Zionist non-profits, of which none of them have a position on the Women of the Wall organization.   Since she made Aliyah to Israel in June 2009, Avraham worked for United With Israel as content manager, where she promoted Israel within social media; SIGNAL as a temporary media coordinator, where she promoted Israeli-Chinese relations, and Israel Academia Monitor as a researcher, where she exposed the activities of anti-Israel professors.  In addition, she also has been writing blogs for the Jewish Press since earlier this year.

Avraham’s writing focuses mainly on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, international relations, Middle Eastern affairs, anti-semitism, the Jewish Diaspora, Israeli politics, counter-terrorism, as well as women’s rights issues.  She prides herself on giving a voice to pro-Israel Arabs and Muslims, Jewish refugees from Arabic speaking countries, Israeli victims of terrorism, and to all of those opposed to the human rights abuses committed by the various dictatorships across the Middle East.

Women of the Wall doesn’t feature a prominent role in the hundreds of articles that Avraham has written, either as content manager for United With Israel, as a researcher for Israel Academia Monitor, as a blog writer at the Jewish Press, or as a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News. “My only loyalty as a journalist is to expose the truth, so Zionist feminists can be fully aware of the Women of the Wall’s leaderships’ associations before signing up for their cause.”

In an article published on Monday, Nov13, 2013, Shira Pruce, spokesperson of Women of the Wall, claims in the Times of Israel that Women of the Wall cannot be “anti-Israel because in our diversity and our pluralism we ARE Israel.”  Indeed, a bird’s eye view of some of the names associated with Women of the Wall will reveal a diverse group composed of native Israelis from all walks of life, including those who served in the IDF and are Olim (Immigrants).   There are even some supporters of Women of the Wall, such as Phyllis Chesler, author of “The New Anti-semitism,” who clearly aren’t anti-Israel.

Nevertheless, Avraham never accused every one who has an association with Women of the Wall of being anti-Israel.   Her piece was never about the hundreds of people who support Women of the Wall or even the Women of the Wall employees working under Hoffman and Kallus.   Avraham’s article focused squarely and only on those who held the most prominent positions within the Women of the Wall organization.

Avraham wrote in the Jewish Press, “There are many well-meaning feminists who support Women of the Wall without being informed of the fact that the organization is led by individuals tied to anti-Israel groups.”   The crux of Avraham’s argument was that the two individuals who hold the most influence within Women of the Wall, Anat Hoffman and Batya Kallus, are associated with anti-Israel groups.   She believes that regardless of who else is involved with the organization, if the principle leaders are associated with anti-Israel groups, then the organization itself has a hidden anti-Israel agenda, as evidenced by the fact that they accepted money from the New Israel Fund.        

One cannot remain indifferent to the strong connections between the Women of the Wall leadership and organizations such as The Moriah Fund which supports the  anti-Israel 972 magazine and groups such as Breaking the Silence, which is composed mainly of ex-IDF soldiers whose mission is to accuse Israeli soldiers of war crimes. Moriah also supports B’tselem, whose leaders and board members have accused Israel of apartheid and called for sanctions against the Jewish State. Incidentally, the Executive Director of B’tselem, Jessica Montell, is an immigrant to Israel from the USA.   To the contrary of what Pruce stated, being an IDF soldier or a Jewish immigrant does not neccesarilly make one a pro-Israel individual.

 So, as Pruce suggests, Women of the Wall is indeed composed of members from all walks of the Israeli life. However, as we can see from the anti Zionist/ anti-Israeli moral fiber of the groups leadership documented above, it is no guarantee to free them from any questionable and nefarious associations as Avraham’s excellent investigative skills have so well presented to us!

Avraham did what any reputable and professional journalist would do. She thoroughly researched her allegations before putting them on paper and ensured that no loose ends are left. As Avraham herself stated, “All of my facts regarding Women of the Wall were double-checked and cross referenced.”  Her rendering of the linkage between several anti-Zionist organizations and the Women of the Wall leadership is water proof and well documented.


About the Author
Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks is an English teacher and a pro Israel advocate. She lives in Israel and has recently published her first novel, "On A Wing From The Holy Land."