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Koscher leben...

Aktiv gegen Nazi-Propaganda!
Jüdische Weisheit

M'ARIWTranslation of an article published
in Ma'ariv, June, 2000


by Uri Avnery

"A religious discotheque" - thus did the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz describe the Western Wall. A pious Jews, he considered the ceremonies there pagan rites.

Therefore I don't get excited about the now storm raging around the wall. The orthodox want to turn it into a synagogue? Let them. They want to enact a law that will impose a penalty of seven years in prison on women who pray there in a Jewish prayer mantle? Well, not so long ago they would have them stoned to death. So there's some progress.

All this was born in sin. If I were a religious person believing in a merciful and just god, I would be convinced that god has cursed the place. In the words of the prophet Jesaia: "Hear the words of the Lord: My soul hates your feasts, they are a trouble unto me, I am weary to bear them…Ye, when you make many prayers, I will not hear, your hands are full of blood…Your ministers are companions of thieves, every one of them loves bribes and longs for money, they do not defend the fatherless neither do they take up the cause of the widow…Wash yourself, put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes, cease to do evil…" (Yesaya 1).

Actually, the whole matter of the Wall is very doubtful from a religious, historical point of view. It is a remnant of the building operations of king Herod, without doubt the greatest Jewish statesman of all times. Yet he was never accepted by his people because of his Edomite origin. People at that time were not less racist then today. Trying in vain to gain their love, he build them a magnificent temple. This building was destroyed by the Romans, when they suppressed the great Jewish revolt, a mad enterprise of the Zealots, who rejected the wisdom of Herod. Nothing remained but a part of the outer wall supporting the site on which the structure stood.

A holy place? For centuries it had no importance to Jews. They prayed on the Mount of Olives, facing the site of the temple. The Wall entered the holy business only many centuries later, in the course of local religious-political bickering.

The Wall reminds me of two personal experiences. For the first time I went there in the early 40s. We walked through the twisting, narrow alleys of the Old City, and suddenly - there was the Wall. The alley in front of it was so narrow that we had to twist our heads back to look at it. It was monumental, gigantic, of unique grandeur.

The second time I went to the Old City immediately after it was conquered in 1967. I witnessed the frightened flight of the inhabitants of the Mughrabi (Moroccan) quarter, who were ordered to get out within hours. Crying children were carrying heavy armchairs on their backs, old women dragged beds. A terrible sight.

Teddy Kollek destroyed this century-old quarter, which was built by pious Muslim pilgrims from Morocco who decided to stay in Palestine and live next to the holy place. The holy bulldozers of Kollek, the arch-settler posing as a peacenik, obliterated the quarter.

Not only was this a war crime according to the Geneva convention, but it also was a crime against Jerusalem. The destruction created a vast empty space, a kind of holy parking place, dwarfing the Wall, which looks now like any other wall, an object of religious politicians, crazy fanatics and "Jerusalem Syndrome" types.

I don't mind turning this place over to the orthodox, if they leave us in peace. There will be no more state functions there. In a synagogue managed by army shirkers, there will be no more swearing-in ceremonies for secular soldiers - ceremonies reminiscent of the pagan-nationalist ceremonies of loathsome regimes. Of course, foreign kings and presidents will no more be dragged there and compelled to wear scull-caps. Even Ehud Barak will no more be obliged to go there for ridiculous photo opportunities, putting between the stones slips of papers containing wishes which will not be fulfilled anyhow.

(There is a story about a person consumed by curiosity who went to the Wall in the middle of the night to find out what people write on these slips. He found that all of them were stamped "Rejected".)

I am ready to turn the Wall over to the orthodox. It doesn't fit anymore the new State of Israel emerging now: A secular Israel, proud of its place as No. 2 in the world of high-tech, wanting peace and prosperity, loathing military adventures of the Ariel Sharon type, ready for compromises undreamed of by Ehud Barak.

Gush ShalomIn this Israel, women will be able to do what men do, whatever they want, to their hearts content and the glory of Israel.

Get this article in Hebrew

Wie ein einsamer Komet am Himmel:
Yeshayahu Leibowitz zur Erinnerung

Der größte Teil der Öffentlichkeit versteht nun, was Leibowitz vom ersten Augenblick an verstanden hatte: dass die Siedlungen für Israel ein Unglück seien...

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