Monday, January 17, 2011

Renovations to Kotel HaKatan

Kotel HaKatan renovated by Jerusalem Development Authority

By MELANIE LIDMAN (Jerusalem Post)
01/16/2011 02:58

Minor renovations took place over the past week in the area around Kotel HaKatan, or the Small Western Wall, which is located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Decades-old scaffolding was removed from the plaza, and a new sign was erected. The scaffolding had been built in 1972 to support a house near the wall that was in danger of collapsing. In 1990, an engineer had found that the building had shifted on its own and was no longer touching the scaffolding, making it redundant.

Outside of the Temple Mount, Kotel HaKatan is the second- closest spot to the Holy of Holies after the Kotel Tunnels.

The work is being carried out by the Jerusalem Development Authority.
As Joseph Lauer observes, rather different spins are being put on these renovations:

Arutz Sheva:
Work on "Small Kotel" Begins

For the first time in nearly 40 years, refurbishing work has begun on the Kotel HaKatan, the Small Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Kotel HaKatan is the little sister of the world famous Western Wall (Kotel). Both are exposed faces of the original western wall of the Temple Mount, built by King Herod over 2,000 years ago. However, while the Western Wall has been a pilgrimage and prayer site for Jews for centuries, is easily accessible, and is hundreds of yards long, the Small Wall has long been little-known, is out of the way, and is barely 10 meters long.

Jerusalem opens Muslim Quarter Jewish site to prayer, upsetting status quo
The Waqf - the Muslim religious trust - has specifically warned against opening the 'Little Kotel' to prayer gatherings, threatening a strong response.
UPDATE (19 January): The debate continues, with CAMERA's piece Ha'aretz Gets Little Right on 'Little Kotel'. Excerpt:
So what do we have here? First, an erroneous and misleading headline which reveals a total lack of understanding concerning the subject matter. Second, rather than reporting in an inside page on the improvement of the life of a few Arab families residing in the Muslim Quarter as a result of the removal of unnecessary scaffolding, Ha'aretz irresponsibly tries to ignite the area with a bombastic front-page headline, feeding into anti-Israel claims that "the Zionists want to destroy Al-Aqsa."

It is also impossible to ignore how veteran Ha'aretz reporter Akiva Eldar describes the two NGO's mentioned in his report — Ateret Cohanim and Ir Amin. While he dubs Ateret Cohanim a "right-wing organization," he calls Ir Amin simply "the non-profit organization Ir Amin," as if it were an apolitical non-profit working completely objectively. Ha'aretz is so skewed that editors do not even realize that special treatment is accorded to leftist non-profits even though they have just as much a political agenda as those on the right.

If Ha'aretz journalists are interested in writing about changes in Jerusalem's status quo, they could write about real news, such as the destruction that the Waqf has wrought on the Temple Mount for more than a decade. Since 1990, and especially since 2001, heavy and destructive equipment hauled away thousands of tons of Temple Mount rubble rich in archeological finds from several time periods. All this to build an underground mosque in the area known as Solomon Stables. Beyond the fact that Waqf officials broke the antiquities law and the planning and building law, they destroyed a huge amount of valuable archeological finds in one of the most important places in the world for the three monotheistic religions, out of total disregard for the cultural, historic and religious value of the relics.

These criminal acts, out in the open for all journalists to see, are a clear example of the violation of the status quo. When was the last time Akiva Eldar wrote about the Waqf's destruction of the Temple Mount, and when was the last time it appeared in the leading headline of the newspaper where he works?
To be fair, Haaretz has covered the illicit Waqf excavations on the Temple Mount and the Temple Mount sifting project that is trying to recover as much archaeological data from the excavated rubble as possible. See, for example, here and here. I cannot, however, find any articles on the subject by Akiva Eldar.

Recent posts on the Temple Mount sifting project are here and here, with links to past posts.