A recent poll held by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University has found that the 48 percent of Israeli Jews support the Women of the Wall's right to hold traditional Jewish prayer services at the Western Wall.
The Women of the Wall have been holding a monthly prayer service at the Western Wall for 24 years. They perform religious rituals typically reserved for men under Orthodox Judaism, and some don tallitot -- traditional Jewish prayer shawls. The practice has often resulted in altercations with ultra-Orthodox men and women praying at site and the women's arrest.
The poll was released on Sunday as part of April's Peace Index and included 600 respondents who constitute a representative sample of the adult population of Israel, found nearly half of the public, 48%, supports Women of the Wall's right to worship at the Western Wall as they see fit, compared to 38% of the public which said that the more traditional customs should remain in place.
The survey found 64% of the secular public, 53% of the traditional-non-religious public and 26% of the traditional-religious supported the group's quest, which was adamantly rejected by ultra-Orthodox poll participants (0%).
A gender segmentation of the results showed that 52% of Jewish men and 46% of Jewish women supported the Women of the Wall.
The data also indicated that support for the Women of the Wall differed dramatically based on background: Some 77% of Israelis born in the United States or Europe said they supported the group's demand to freely pray at the Western Wall, followed by 61% of Israelis whose parents were born in U.S. or Europe, 46% of Israelis whose parents were born in Israel, 43% of Israelis whose parents were born in Asia or Africa, 38% of Israelis from the former Soviet Union (38%) and 33% of Israelis who were born in Asia or Africa.
Tensions at the Western Wall plaza were at an all-time high on Friday, as thousands of haredim faced off with a group of a few dozen women, who arrived at the holy site to hold their monthly Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a Jewish month) prayer.
Hundreds of police officers were summoned to ensure public order was maintained, but to no avail. As soon as the women's prayer began, the haredi worshippers clashed with security forces in an attempt to disrupt the service. Two police officers were lightly wounded and three haredi men were arrested.
Ultra-Orthodox leaders, including Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, have repeatedly claimed that the Women of the Wall were "disrupting the custom of the place," but in late April, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the group's prayer services were not illegal.