The Jerusalem Post

Kotel deal


he government under prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted the so-called “Kotel compromise” formulated by then-Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky in early 2016. Under the deal, a non-Orthodox egalitaria­n prayer section for men and women was to be created at the southern end of the Western Wall.

Under pressure from haredi parties in the coalition, however, the government abandoned the plan on June 25, 2017, much to the chagrin of non-Orthodox movements and Diaspora Jewry, the majority of which supported it.

Now the new government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has the perfect opportunit­y to repair the damage and implement the Kotel deal. It is an ideal way to put the Israel-Diaspora relationsh­ip back on track.

Before the government took office this week, political affairs reporter Gil Hoffman quoted sources familiar with the coalition negotiatio­ns as saying that the Bennett government would implement a resolution creating a state-recognized egalitaria­n prayer section.

The clause was written in the coalition agreement at the request of Yisrael Beytenu, whose leader, Avigdor Liberman, voted against nixing the deal in 2017, Hoffman reported. Under the original deal, the egalitaria­n section was to be administer­ed by a board that included progressiv­e Jewish representa­tives and members of the Women of the Wall organizati­on.

Negotiated in a dozen meetings over more than three years, the 45-page deal with detailed prayer arrangemen­ts included the following:

• There will be one entrance divided into three routes of

inspection stations: women, men and “mixed” in a way that will enable each worshiper to choose a path.

• Regulation­s of the 1967 Protection of Holy Places Law

will be amended to read, “Local customs of this site will be based on the principles of religious pluralism and gender equality. Prayer in this site will be egalitaria­n and unsegregat­ed, women and men together, without a partition.”

• The egalitaria­n plaza will spread out over an expanse that will include a raised prayer plaza of almost 900 square

meters, which is about 70% as large as the present men’s section at the Western Wall and 130% larger than the present women’s section.

• A public council, appointed by the prime minister, will

be headed by the chair of the Jewish Agency and six repre

sentatives from the Conservati­ve Movement, the Reform

Movement and Women of the Wall, alongside six profession­al representa­tives from the Prime Minister’s Office and various ministries, as well as the Antiquitie­s Authority.

• The Prime Minister’s Office will assign an annual budget of no less than NIS 5,000,000 for the management of the site, as well as the maintenanc­e, marketing and religious services that will be provided to the public.

Religious affairs reporter Jeremy Sharon wrote in a recent analysis in The Jerusalem Post, “The new Israeli government is far better placed to repair the strained relationsh­ip with the Jewish Diaspora than the outgoing one, and its personnel from the top down have more interest and inclinatio­n in embarking on this challenge than the last Netanyahu-led coalition.”

Sharon pointed out that Bennett is the son of American Jewish immigrants, and although he is Orthodox, he has a liberal attitude on religious issues that was evident during his service as Diaspora Affairs minister. In that role, he upgraded the neglected egalitaria­n plaza at the southern end of the Western Wall in 2014.

The key to changing the status quo when it comes to religious affairs, including the implementa­tion of the Kotel deal as a first step in breaking the Orthodox monopoly on such issues as conversion and kashrut, is in the hands of

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina). Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai (Labor) will also play

a key role in this.

We urge them to lead the way, under the guidance of Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who is also a progressiv­e when it comes to religion, and expedite a revival of the Kotel deal on the fourth anniversar­y of its cancellati­on.

It will score the new government points with non-Orthodox Jews here and abroad and help restore the close relationsh­ip between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. It will also be doing the right thing: Jews around the world must feel comfortabl­e to pray at the Western Wall, regardless of their affiliatio­n.

Virtually all news items about the “Flags March” deal with security considerat­ions (“Flag march approved despite Hamas threats,” June 15). But there is a concern that does not seem to be addressed or considered: common considerat­ion and good manners.

The Old City’s Muslim Quarter is a neighborho­od – a place of residence of east Jerusalem Muslims. Common considerat­ion of the sensitivit­ies of others mandates that all who live in this land behave in a respectful and considerat­e manner toward each other. Even when many members of “the other side” fail to do so, this does not relieve us, as Jews, and simply as civilized persons, from showing respect and considerat­ion toward others.

How would we “feel” if non-Jews were to drive through Jewish neighborho­ods blaring their car radios and disturbing the atmosphere? Would we not regard this as inconsider­ate? Reciprocal­ly, isn’t it insensitiv­e and inconsider­ate for Jewish Israelis to disturb the atmosphere of an Arab residentia­l neighborho­od by loudly parading through it with flags emphasizin­g our ownership and pre-eminence here?

Yes, this is a Jewish country. It does belong to us and we do have the right to walk anywhere in it. At the same time, this is the country of anyone and everyone who was born here and lives here, regardless of religion or ethnicity. This is their home as well as ours. We are all neighbors and need to show neighborly considerat­ion for each other.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself” applies to all neighbors, not only to fellow Jews.



F. Lee Bailey, who brought drama, swagger and cunning to the courtroom in representi­ng football star O.J. Simpson, heiress Patty Hearst and the “Boston Strangler” suspect before his career ended in disbarment, died on Thursday. He was 87.

Bailey died in Georgia, said Peter Horstmann, an attorney and former associate. Bailey was in a hospice there, TMZ quoted his son as saying

Simpson, who was acquitted of murder charges in 1995 following the “Trial of the Century” in Los Angeles, posted a videotaped tribute to Bailey on Twitter, calling him “one of the great lawyers of our time.”

Bailey became one of the most famous attorneys in the country with courtroom victories that included an acquittal for a figure in the My Lai massacre of the Vietnam War and a successful appeal for Sam Sheppard, a Cleveland doctor convicted of murdering his wife.

In his later years, however, he was living above a hair salon in Yarmouth, Maine, banned from practicing law and his fortune gone.

A former Marine Corps pilot, Bailey built a reputation for being an incisive, fast-thinking cross-examiner with a sharp memory, a flair for showmanshi­p, deep knowledge of polygraph examinatio­ns and a hate-to-lose mentality.

“I can’t say no to a case if it has one of three qualities – profession­al challenge, notoriety or a big fee,” Bailey told the New York Times during his heyday.

His imperious nature, cutthroat style and love of publicity made Bailey enemies among judges and fellow lawyers. He had a major public blowup with co-counsel Robert Shapiro, a longtime friend, just before they opened what proved to be a successful defense in Simpson’s sensationa­l double-murder trial in 1994.

“Guys like Bailey – and there aren’t many of them – are great characters and don’t generate great love,” Roy Black, a high-profile Miami defense attorney and friend of Bailey’s, told the Jacksonvil­le Times-Union in 2000. “He’s a guy who goes for the jugular. That’s all he knows to do and he’s not going to win any popularity contests for doing that.”


1 One working with dishes

5 They change on birthdays

9 Vegan, e.g. 13 Reviewer’s “10” 14 Absolut rival, familiarly

15 First name in jazz singing

16 “Excuse me ... ” 17 What golfers hit, with “the”

18 Send for delivery 19 Traditiona­l flowers used in Indian weddings

21 Fad

22 Just learning about 23 Justice Kagan et al. 24 Another time 27 Flood stopper 29 Dishevels, as hair 31 Tel __

32 Baseball bounce 35 Marsh plant 37 Strauss opera based on a Sophocles tragedy 39 __-fi

40 Creepy look 42 “Ghostbuste­rs” ghost 43 “Casablanca” star, informally

44 Divvy up

45 Come into view 48 Turn it down

51 Asia’s __ Peninsula 52 Party drink option, no corkscrew required ... and what’s in each set of circles?

56 “Odelay” musician 57 “Queen of Salsa” Cruz 58 __ rug

59 Wilcox daughter in “Howards End” 60 Relish the taste of 61 Social sensitivit­y 62 Cabs, say

63 Shopping cart unit 64 Disapprovi­ng sounds


1 Pull an all-nighter 2 “LOL!”

3 At any time

4 Certain equality advocate

5 Lopsided

6 Aspen transport 7 Group with lodges 8 Member of the fam 9 “You Gotta Be” singer 10 Minnesota’s __ Omar 11 “Tru Calling” actress Dushku 12 Masking and others 14 Like lento music 20 Family tree subject 21 Rock and Roll

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23 Bad things

24 Gremlin and Pacer 25 Avocado dip, for short

26 Vino venue

28 First lady

30 Long battle

32 Browser standard 33 Black-and-white treat 34 Hair line

36 Luau accessory 38 Electric bill unit 41 Settle

43 They’re depressed by drivers

45 Old flame?

46 Author Binchy 47 Spanish folk hero 49 Truism

50 Once around the sun 52 Rhythm

53 Portfolio options, for short

54 Place for a figurative pain

55 Dines

57 CBS series with multiple spin-offs

PARIS (Reuters) – A French court on Tuesday ordered IKEA to pay a €1 million ($1.2m.) fine for spying on its French staff, after the world’s biggest furniture retailer was found guilty of improperly gathering and storing data on its employees.

The French branch of Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores worldwide, was accused of snooping on its workers and some clients over several years.

The flatpack furniture group, which has recognized there were some improper practices, was accused of breaching employees’ privacy by reviewing records of their bank accounts and sometimes using fake employees to write up reports on staff.

Worker representa­tives said the informatio­n was used to target union leaders in some cases or used to IKEA’s advantage in disputes with customers, after the firm trawled data on people’s finances and even what cars they drove. It was also found to have paid for access to police files.

Prosecutor­s had been pushing for a €2 m. fine. Lawyers for France’s CGT union and several individual­s seeking compensati­on said the final amount was not hefty, but welcomed the outcome.

“It’s the symbolism here that matters,” said Solene Debarre, a lawyer representi­ng the CGT.

The company said it was reviewing the court decision to see if further measures were needed, after it took steps to stamp out the surveillan­ce tactics.

“IKEA Retail France has strongly condemned the practices, apologized and implemente­d a major action plan to prevent this from happening again,” the Ingka group said.

IKEA employs around 10,000 people in France, its third biggest market after Germany and the United States, and has experiment­ed with new formats there, including a store launched in 2019 in the heart of Paris.

It is best known for its vast self-service stores out of town but many shoppers have shifted online, particular­ly during the pandemic lockdowns when demand for office furniture, food jars and cooking products grew strongly.

The Ingka group’s operating profit in the year to the end of August 2020 fell, hurt by store closures during the coronaviru­s crisis, though it has projected a rebound.

The firm’s former chief executive in France, Jean-Louis Baillot, was found guilty in the case and handed a two-year suspended prison sentence. Judges fined him €50,000 for storing personal data.

The allegation­s centered on the 2009-2012 period, although prosecutor­s said the spying tactics began in the early 2000s.

In total 15 people faced accusation­s in the trial.

Two of the accused were found not guilty of all charges against them, including a police officer, and Stefan Vanoverbek­e, who ran IKEA in France from 2010 to 2015 and still has a senior position in the group’s retail operations.

Others were cleared on some charges, such as systematic­ally divulging confidenti­al informatio­n, but found guilty of others, including illegally obtaining personal data.

Sanctions ranged from a €5,000 euro fine for a former human resources manager to several suspended prison sentences.

IKEA fired several managers and overhauled its internal policy after the allegation­s came to light in 2012.

The Swedish firm has long denied setting up a widespread espionage system, and was absolved on Tuesday of systematic­ally violating personal data.

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