I just read this article by ronit peskin, who organised teh Women for the Wall prayer rally on friday, at the same time as the Women OF the wall have their regualr rosh chodesh tefillah. I shan;t restate her article - you can read it yourself - but having read it and thought about it, i'm going to respond.
I'm really glad that i read her article. I'm glad to know that it was women who organised the non-WoW prayer rally, and that her intention was to demonstrate achdus and show that the kotel is precious to all women of all stripes. I apologsie for having said that i am annoyed at the gedolim who encouraged teenage girls to go to a riot. I am also glad that intendeding to block out the WoW was not her intenton (but dislike that the 'gedolim' did intend that). I think that she had good intentions - which i was relieved about - buit i think it was a mistake.
First of all, i think that she should have realised that there would be a riot going on. that there would be out of control men there who would behave in unpleasant, aggressive ways, and so every woman there would be in a riot zone. i agree with her plea that the men withdraw from any involvement in this issue and let the women discuss it. ideally with drinks and snacks, of course. but that is not going to happen.
And i stand by my initial response. All this fuss and balagan against the WoW is unecessary, unjustified, and unhelpful. The kotel is a public place. People come there to pray. How they pray is their decision (so is who they pray to, for that matter). The WoW can come in their tallis and tefillin, just like the women who come in their strappy heels, short skirts, and tank tops clutching kotel-issue blanket-type-thingies around them in a vain attempt to cover up; just like the japanese who come and take a bunch of photos and stick a note in; just like the christian woman who was next to me last time i was there, kneeling (as in church) and fingering her rosary. no prizes for guessing to whom she was praying.
The kotel is not a private place of worship. There are always disturbances and distractions. Noisy ones, too. I mentioend loud (mostly-)sephardi barmitzvahs with loud singing by the women and men, ululations, sweet-throwing, and often rather scanty dress. children also, making alot of disturbance. But that's the package deal at the kotel.
And all this fuss is coutner-productive. The more that the WoW are opposed, shouted down, and struggled against, the more people who only care about the fight will be attracted to their cause. If they are left to daven at the kotel in their own way, privately, without a big fuss, then the only people who will go will be the ones who care about davening in that way. All the WoW who are primarily interested in proving something to the men, or doing just the same as the men, or forcing the men or the charedim or whoever to legitimise their position, they will stop coming. If you really want to act effectively against the WoW, you should make sure to not go to the kotel for that hour on rosh chodesh, and to move away from them and daven in a different area when you are there at the same time. Oh, i would think a bit of 'shushing' is fine too (we do it to everyone else, after all).
but i'm glad to know now that there were good intentions in the counter-WoW prayer rally. As far as the women are concerned, i would say that both sides seem to mean well but miss the mark a little. Shame about the men.