Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Booked for Praying

Anat Hoffman, the director of the Israel Religious Action Center and a former Jerusalem city councilwoman, was questioned by police, fingerprinted and told that she may be charged with a felony for helping to organize Women of the Wall’s recent prayer service at the Western Wall. The Forward reports:

Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, said that police interrogated her for more than an hour on January 5 about her activities during Women of the Wall’s last monthly service in December. Speaking by phone from Jerusalem, Hoffman said she did nothing differently that day than she had for the 21 years of her group’s existence.
But this incident follows the arrest in November of another member of the group, Nofrat Frenkel, and is contributing to a sense among the women in the organization that the Israeli authorities are stepping up their surveillance and intimidation of activities that challenge the ultra-Orthodox control of the holy site. A spokesperson for the Israeli police said he did not know of the interrogation and declined further comment.

But of course. Doesn’t it make perfect sense? A group of women worshipping at the Western Wall, wearing prayer shawls under their coats, might be so captivated by this small taste of crime that they might join the underworld next. And after we read from Torah scrolls? Kidnapping and armed robbery, for sure.

Either it’s been a very slow day at the police station, or someone in high places is feeling threatened and pulling strings. Anybody want to take bets on which one it is?

In any case, that doesn’t make Anat’s interrogation any less appalling.

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