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Why Netanyahu pretends to care for progressive Judaism

The compromise over prayer space at the Western Wall for progressive Jews doesn't mean that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now on their side, but that he had no choice but to make a concession to the non-Orthodox.

In an ironic twist, it was in the midst of horrendous days for Israeli peace activists and human rights organizations that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did what all its predecessors had not done to advance the principle of equality. On Jan. 31, the Cabinet decided to allot a section of the Western Wall compound to non-Orthodox worshippers, including the Women of the Wall.

The decision was hailed as historic and unprecedented, but is it a harbinger of things to come? Is this the sign of a liberal “Jewish Spring”? Can the decision be viewed as the first sign of Netanyahu's fulfillment of his promise made last November in the United States to strengthen non-Orthodox denominations in Israel? At a meeting of the Jewish Federations of North America on Nov. 10, Netanyahu proclaimed, “The Wall is a source of unity for our people, not a point of division. … I will always ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel.”

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