In a statement issued over the weekend, ADL also pointed to the "outrageous" comments by Knesset Member Israel Eichler (United Torah Judaism), who compared the Women of the Wall movement to the perpetrators of Wednesday night's hate crime arson attack on the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish in northern Israel, as compounding the damage done by Minister Azoulay’s statements.
According to reports, during a meeting on the subject of the Women of the Wall, Minister Azoulay characterized Reform Jews as "a disaster for the people of Israel" and referred to the prayer activities of the Women of the Wall as a "provocation."
In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, MK Eichler wrote that the Women of the Wall who engage in Torah reading at the Western Wall are "not any less dangerous than vandals who attacked the Christian site on the Sea of Galilee."
"The denigration of Jewish religious observance and practice by any Israeli government representative is inappropriate," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in the statement.
"Coming from the minister for religious affairs, such offensive comments only serve to widen and deepen divisions among Jews and set back efforts to promote Jewish religious inclusiveness, and MK Eichler’s outrageous and highly offensive comparison of the Women of the Wall to individuals responsible for a hate crime – coming on the heels of Minister Azoulay’s statement – only fuels that growing divide."
Foxman added, "Minister Azoulay and MK Eichler must swiftly and unequivocally apologize for their deeply hurtful spurious assaults on Reform Jews and the Women of the Wall. Their comments are an affront to millions of Jews in Israel and around the world.
"It is imperative that the government of Israel engage in sustained and intensified efforts to ensure that all Jews can feel at home and comfortable in Israel, regardless of belief or denominational affiliation. Israel and the Jewish people will be better off once all Jews and their sense of Judaism are equally respected and tolerated."