06 Jun 2016 310 views
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photoblog image The Western Wall
The Western Wall|

The Western Wall


Another place of continuing struggle. The wall at the back is known as the Western Wall or Wailing Wall. Directly behind the wall, from where I stand, is the Temple Mount. All of it located in the Old City of Jerusalem.


The Western Wall is reckoned to be the holiest of Jewish sites, sacred because it is a remnant of the Herodian retaining wall that once enclosed and supported the Second Temple. It has also been called the "Wailing Wall" by European observers, because for centuries Jews have gathered here to lament the loss of their temple. The temple was first lost when the tribe was exiled to Babylonia and the temple was razed. On return from exile, the temple was rebuilt and the period of the Second Temple started. In 20 BC, King Herod had a retaining wall built around the temple, to enlarge and flatten the temple area. When the Romans lost their cool towards the Jews in 70 AD, Jerusalem and the temple were flattened. The temple remains flat to this day. Muslims have built the Dome of the Rock (huge mosque) and another mosque on the Temple Mount.


Since the razing of Jerusalem, the Jewish relationship with Jerusalem and the wall, went through various permutations. It started with a total ban by the Romans, for Jews to live or visit Jerusalem. Later, they were permitted to return once a year and bitterly grieve about the fate of their people. Under Christian rule they Jews were allowed to return and settle in Jerusalem. This went on for quite some time. After the Arabs took over the area right next to the wall was settled as a Moroccan Quarter. During the Ottoman period, rules started to be imposed - sometimes more and sometimes less restrictive. The part directly next to the wall became a narrow street, that had to accomodate travellers, devotees, animals, and shops.


A period of British rule started in 1917 and lasted to 1948. Their indifference to the issues concerning the wall, resulted in the 1929 Palestinian riots, when a number of people on both sides of the argument, got killed and injured. Things hot up, when people remained unhappy with British solutions to Israeli/Palestinian issues. This grew into the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, which resulted in a land division where the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the wall, landed under Jordanian rule. The armistice provided for access by Jews to the wall, which was not honoured by Jordania. No amount of requests to the likes of the UN, solved anything.


Then came the 6-day war in June 1967. The Israeli's were victorious and they now occupy the area, west of the river Jordan, including all of Jerusalem and the wall. The UN found the occupation to be illegal, but the Israeli's treat the finding with the same indifference as what the UN treated their requests, to have the free access to the Western Wall enforced, under Jordanian rule, at the time.

Forty-eight hours after capturing the wall, the military, without explicit government order, hastily proceeded to demolish the entire Moroccan Quarter which stood 4 metres from the Wall. That resulted in the open space in this picture, known as the Western Wall Plaza. It has the official status of an open-air synagogue and that is how the area is used. When I took this picture, I was standing at the barricade that indicates the boundary of the synagogue. I could have entered if I wanted to, but chose to remain outside.


To the right you can see a barrier. The large area in front of me, is the area for male worshippers and behind the barrier is the female section.  Lecterns and tables are for the scrolls and books that are used during religious readings.



comments (16)

you have framed thousands of years of history in this image Louis... thank you for the information about the Western Wall... i still don't think that the struggles around this wall are finished... only time will tell....petersmile
Louis: As it stands, this side of the wall belongs to the one side (contested) and the other side to the opposition (bewailed). I tend to agree about continuing struggles, peter.
Malheureusement, je ne comprends pas toutes les explications. Je suppose que c'est un mur de prières. Sont-ce des livres au premier plan ?
Louis: C'est le Mur des Lamentations à Jérusalem. Mon texte décrit l'histoire. Il y a beaucoup d'histoire tragique, lié à la Mur des Lamentations. Si vous êtes intéressés, a un article de Wiki. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mur_des_Lamentations
  • Ray
  • United States
  • 6 Jun 2016, 03:38
Perhaps something like the Wall Donnie Trump is proposing for the border with Mexico and, possibly, Canada.
Louis: When I read about Donnie's daftness, I thought about the wall in Bethlehem, which featured on Friday past and an earlier post. What worries me is that he has such big support in the US. Maybe it would be better to build those walls, to keep the rest of the world safe from those supporters.
A very special image of a very special place.
Louis: Thank you Elizabeth. Enjoy your heat wave (hope your airco works), we are entering winter.
This wall is most impressive Louis! Thank you for the history words.
Louis: Thank you Richard - it is impressive, indeed.
  • Chris
  • England
  • 6 Jun 2016, 07:01
Absolutely fascinating Louis, I am very pleased to have read your words here because before now, although I have always known of the Wailing Wall, its purpose and history has been somewhat of a mystery. Cats, creeds, sects, religions that keep males & females apart are always a bit suspect though in my eyes..
Louis: Cats? smile Funny thing is that God created male and female to be together and He decreed it again when He issued the law to Israel, back then. There is a long history of laws added by the religious leaders of the Jews over the years. Somewhere in that lot the gender division in the synagogue came about. Jesus reserved harsh words for these religious leaders, for adding and changing the laws.
All that history in "one swell foop," Louis! I have a feeling we'll never know exactly what that space means to so many people in any other way than struggle and fighting. The day there is peace there, perhaps there will be peace in the whole wide world?!
Louis: I cannot for a moment think that peace will ever come about between the two groups in Israel. But it would be nice to be surprised.
Ah yes, the exile to Babylonia Louis. The Isreali people had been naughty and worshipped 'other' gods. Their expulsion to Babylonia shows how things go 'pear shaped' when we misbehave.
Louis: People just like to do things to their own advantage/liking and then spend hours rationalising why it was good for others.
  • Lisl
  • England
  • 6 Jun 2016, 08:36
I had no idea that it is so substantial and high, Louis
Louis: It had to contain the landfill that leveled the Temple Mount, Lisl. I only realised how substantial the wall is, when I saw it with my own eyes. And this is only a part of the wall.
It is all so sad to me, the fighting over religion.
Louis: It is so, Mary.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 6 Jun 2016, 16:17
The Klagemauer as I recall - on the right hand there are the women praying.
Louis: You are correct in your summary, Philine
A very interesting photo, Louis.
Louis: The reality is even more interesting, Frank.
Fine crisp shot, Louis.
Louis: And a fine crisp morning it was, Tom smile
what a history to this piece of land! well the clumps of bushes managed to get in, Louis. a fine head on view of this majestic wall.
Louis: Thank you Ayush. I think those bushes are old.
  • blackdog
  • United Kingdom
  • 7 Jun 2016, 18:37
Religion has a lot to answer for, but this speaks of the persecution of people over 2000 years. Enjoyed the read of your synopsis.
Louis: Thank you blackdog. My personal take on religion, is that it is a concept, so it can't answer. But there are people in the various religions who manages their specific religion to their own benefit. Those are the people who has a lot to answer for. Henry VIII is one of many English examples - and each country has its list of names.
I know there is all this history concerning the wall but I do find it strange to see people standing in front of a wall praying and bobbing their heads up and down as against the churches over here where we stand or kneel in normal pews.
Louis: Yes, it is also different from what I am used to. As I have indicated, the space before the wall is declared a synagogue, so these guys are in church, so to speak. Their prayers are recitals of grief, for having lost the temple. So I imagine a bobbing head goes with the rhythm.

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