Denial at the Western Wall


Published December 01, 2010, issue of December 10, 2010.
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Really? What did Al-Mutawakel Taha, the Palestinian Authority’s deputy minister of information, think he would accomplish by issuing a “scientific” report claiming that the Western Wall wasn’t actually a Jewish historic site? Taha told the Forward’s Nathan Jeffay that the report was intended to educate the Jewish people. Thanks, but we don’t need this sort of distorted, insulting lesson. History says otherwise.

And history tells us that not only do some of the stones at what is known in Hebrew as the Kotel date back to the Herodian era, but that this site and its environs have been sacred to Jews for millennia. The wall has been a magnet during times of dispersal and a symbol of the hope of redemption. For centuries, Jews have prayed at the wall — except, that is, for the 19 years it was controlled by Jordan and access was denied.

So please, spare the lecture. Whatever chance exists for reconciliation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hinges on mutual acceptance of each other’s narratives. If Jews have been asked to appreciate Palestinian claims to parts of Jerusalem, and rightly so, surely Palestinians must be willing to honor the ancient Jewish connection to this holy site.

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