Israel: Much Ado Over a Prayer

While in Israel, US presidential hopeful Barack Obama placed a prayer in the Western Wall during a pre-dawn visit. Soon enough, a Jewish religious student fished the private note from the wall and gave it to Ma'ariv, where it was published – drawing criticism to both the newspaper and Obama himself.

The handwritten note, on stationery from The King David where Obama stayed, says:

Protect my family and me.
Forgive my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair.
Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just.
And make me an instrument of your will.

Both Checkpoint Jerusalem‘s Dion Nissenbaum and South Jerusalem‘s Gershom Gorenberg shed light on the situation with extensive posts, which describe the on going debate on Israeli newspapers and blogs about the incident – and on whether Obama's campaign had leaked the prayer or not.

Regardless, Ellen W. Horowitz, at Shiloh Musings, isn't convinced and asks:

Could it be that Obama prayed that the public read his “private” note to G-d which was inserted in a crevice in the Kotel (Western Wall), and subsequently “stolen” by some Yeshiva students?

She further adds:

Let's face it, that beautifully written and expressed note was custom made for public consumption and propaganda purposes – and possibly intended to garner some evangelical Christian votes. Watch this slick campaign ploy which just screams “I Barack Hussein Obama am a Christian.” Sing along to “Amazing Grace”, as not since the Crusades has the Kotel been so enmeshed with the Cross.

Meanwhile, Tikun Olam: Make the World a Better Place is incensed at Ma'ariv for publishing Obama's prayer (petek).

Apparently, even yeshiva bochers at the Kotel have become the equivalent of Jewish paparazzi because one stalked Obama, searched through other p’takim till he found Obama’s and then shopped it to Yediot and Maariv, among others. It reminds me of desperate celebrity stalkers who rummage through stars’ trash for something salacious enough to be salable to the tabloid press. Thankfully, it was beneath Yediot’s dignity to bite on this journalistic fish. But Maariv, having no scruples to speak of, gobbled the morsel up and regurgitated it for its readers.

Writing at Israel Matzav, Carl in Jerusalem links to a video, which claims to show the note being stolen from the Western Wall. He also admits the that incident is getting more attention than it deserves.

There's been a lot of attention paid in the media over the last week to a note left in the Kotel (Western Wall) by Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama last Thursday morning. Probably a lot more attention than it deserves.

The note was published in Maariv last Friday and was picked up by the Los Angeles Times. When that led to a lot of outrage, Maariv claimed Obama had asked them to post the note. Then they claimed he didn't. If you follow all the links here, you should get most of the back and forth.


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