Dec 2016

“And in her heart, a wall”—A Jewish Lens on a Walled World

by Michael Panitz

Reagan at wall

U.S. President Ronald Reagan speaking in Berlin, 1987: “Tear down this wall”

 

1. Introduction: The View from Berlin…

            Walls dominate so many landscapes, past and present. The fear of walls and, conversely, the fear of not having walls, are the focal point of contemporary political controversy. Physical walls separate men and nations. Legal walls complement the work of steel, concrete and barbed wire. A promised wall against Mexico propelled Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, and the desire for a “wall” against unwanted migration across the English Channel motivated the Brexit vote.

On the other hand, some walls have come down. Ronald Reagan’s 1987 challenge to Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall”, a challenge that came true in the following two and a half years, has found an echo in contemporary German political life. Angela Merkel, eager to lead a Germany that is a home to refugees, not a creator of refugees, has allowed in large numbers of Middle Easterners fleeing war and terrorism in their homelands to enter. Her actions have inspired admiration in some quarters, but occasioned deep opposition in others.

In Wim Wenders’ 1987 film classic, Der Himmel ueber Berlin, two guardian angels subtly support the life-weary and lift up the downtrodden.  Unlike the people they seek to help, the angels Damiel and Cassiel can walk through walls, including “The Wall”. Eternal, they recall all the ages of the past, including the devastated urban wilderness of 1945, as they move, unseen, throughout their appointed city. They follow an old man, a modern-day Homer, but unlike his namesake, a would-be bard of peace. Homer leads them into the open field that had been the Potsdamer Platz before the War and the ensuing Cold War, but instead of the built-up assemblage of earlier days, they see only the graffiti- covered Berlin Wall. I interpret that scene as the film-maker’s statement on the history of his century: In an era in which militarism, racism, and the quest for domination have supplanted the more positive connotations of Kultur, a wall, Die Mauer, has replaced the architectural glories of civilization.

 

And yet: the negative impact of walls is not the entire story. Walls are bivalent. Walls can sometimes protect, as well as exclude and confine. The wall defined the town in ancient and medieval times. Indeed, Zaun, “palisade”, is etymologically as well as concretely at the heart of the definition of the “town”. The walled city was a haven for the serf fleeing his oppressive master. A sojourn of a year and a day in that jurisdiction annulled any claim to deprive the former serf of his liberty. In the language of the medieval German lawcodes: “Stadtluft macht frei”.

2. Walls in German-Jewish History

           Walls have been prominent in German-Jewish history throughout the past millennium. In 1084, when Archbishop Rüdiger of Speyer invited Jewish merchants into his city to help in its economic development, he “surrounded their district with a fine wall, to protect them from the insolence of the mob.” (1)

But over the course of the High and Late Middle Ages, as the Christian component became more central to regional and national identities throughout Christendom, invitations and charters to groups of Jewish merchants gave way to expulsions of Jewish communities, or failing that, to incarcerations—and protective walls became ghetto walls.

The history of the Jewish community of Frankfurt can serve as a representative example of German Jewry. (2)  In 1462, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III forcibly removed the Jews of Frankfurt to a newly-constructed, although unpaved, walled district abutting the old city walls. A thirty-foot high wall cut them off from the world. Bitter, the Jews confined to their street, the Judengasse, called their domicile “New Egypt”. Not the Jews themselves, but their Christian jailers, controlled movement in and out of the ghetto. Jews were locked in every night as well as on Sundays and Christian holidays.

But the greatest Jewish fear during the Middle Ages, as is mentioned in passing in Archbishop Rüdiger’s charter, came not the duly-constituted central government but rather from anti-establishment forces. Rebellions against central authority, in Frankfurt as elsewhere throughout Christendom, featured attacks on the Jews and the plundering of their property. One such attack against the Judengasse of Frankfurt was by a mob incited by the local guild leader Vincent Fettmilch, in 1614. In the aftermath of the attack, the imperial government mounted a stone imperial eagle above the gates to the Jewish street proclaiming that the inhabitants and property of the Judengasse were “Protected by the Roman Imperial Majesty and the Holy Empire.” (3)

Jews had to face other challenges, in addition to mob violence. Local government was often more hostile to Jews than imperial authorities. The Frankfurt city leaders resisted attempts to end the ghetto during the 18th century, when other German ghettoes were being opened up.  The walls of the Frankfurt ghetto were finally demolished in the 1790s, not by the triumph of Aufklärung-era toleration, but as collateral damage caused by the artillery fire of the several attacking armies during the wars of the French Revolutionary era, aiming instead for the city arsenal. Subsequently, in 1806, the city’s French-appointed governor, the Grand Duke Karl von Dalberg, extended the French system of equal rights to adherents of all religious communities in Frankfurt. The city government attempted to reestablish the ghetto in 1807, but in 1811, Dalberg definitively eliminated the requirements for Jews to live in the ghetto and to pay discriminatory taxes—in exchange for a payment of 440,000 guilder by the Jewish community.

The protection of the government “from the insolence of the mob” vanished during the Nazi period, when Hitler’s anti-Semitism united so many Germans of all stations in nationalist and racist frenzy. In 1938, the government itself organized the Kristallnacht attacks upon the synagogues and the Jewish community of Germany. As for “Stadtluft macht frei,” in German-Jewish history, it gave way to “Arbeit macht frei.”

The benumbed survivors, beholding the crematorium that Nazi-dominated Europe had become for Jews by 1945, could not have anticipated that Germany would again become attractive to Jews, seven decades later.  But Jews, including many Israelis as well as those who have left the USSR or post-Soviet Russia, have settled in Germany. In 2006, two thirds of a century after Kristallnacht, the Ohel Jakob synagogue in Munich—the cradle of Nazism– was reopened triumphantly. In 2015, the Jewish population of Germany had risen to 118,000—the eighth largest Jewish population among the countries of the world. Today, in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, there is an upsurge of interest, on the part of English Jews descended from German-Jewish refugees or Holocaust survivors, in reclaiming their German citizenship and moving back to Germany, if necessary.

But for the newly-repatriated Jews of Germany and their children, the Messiah has not come. A growing community with highly visible institutions, the Jews of Germany are nonetheless in need of considerable police protection, against the mounting violence. The attacks on Jews are mostly the work of Arabs in Germany, and to some extent by the neo-Nazis still existing at the fringe of German political life. In 2016 as in 1084, not only those who would divide God’s children into fratricidal camps build walls. Some walls are still needed against those who hate.

3. The Wall of Jerusalem: Exile of the Divine Spirit

Wall of Jerusalem

People praying at the kotel (Western Wall), the holiest site in Judaism.

            The most famous wall in Jewish history is the kotel (“wall”), i.e. the Western Wall.  It is imprecisely thought to be the surviving wall of Herod’s Temple. In fact, the lowermost half of the kotel, partly below and partly above the contemporary street level, is a Herodian-era retaining wall, shoring up the western face of the plaza at the summit of Mount Moriah, known as the Temple Mount. This was the site upon which Herod rebuilt and greatly enlarged the Second Temple.  Like Herod’s building, and contra the current propaganda from Arab and UNESCO circles denying the Jewish connection to the Temple mount, that earlier building, dating to the late 6th century B.C.E., had stood on the footprint of Solomon’s Jerusalem Temple. Much of the kotel was completed during Herod’s lifetime, but recent archaeological excavations have revealed that the basic work on the kotel continued after his death in 4 BCE.  (The top layers of the kotel, composed of smaller stones, are the work of much later builders, Arab and Ottoman.)

After the destruction of the Temple, the kotel, the sole surviving wall of that entire complex, gained in religious significance for Jews. Rabbi Akiva, a leading member of the “Founding Fathers” of Rabbinic Judaism and the preeminent rabbinic mystic of the early 2nd century, is credited with the notion that the Shekhinah (God’s presence) is exiled along with the children of Israel. This idea resonated with later Rabbis. In a standard Rabbinic commentary attributed to the 4th century Rabbi Acha, (Exodus Rabbah 2:2) the Shekhinah, God’s Divine Presence, left the burning Temple to dwell at the kotel, thereby imparting sanctity to it. (4)

It is not surprising that Rabbis were the pioneers of this reinterpretation of the significance of an historical wall. Rabbinic Judaism achieved a position of leadership within the Jewish world precisely because it had a coherent strategy for balancing the traditional and the progressive in the changed conditions of Jewish life after the destruction of the Temple.

Christians referred to the kotel as “The Wailing Wall” (Klagemauer, in 19th century German sources). This was based on the discriminatory restriction of Jewish access to that site. After the Christianization of Rome, Eastern Roman and Byzantine emperors (4th through 7th centuries) barred the Jews from having access to that site except on the anniversary of the Babylonian and Roman destructions of the two successive Jerusalem Temples, both commemorated on the 9th day of the Hebrew month Av. Since the kotel visit was at a time of national mourning, it became connected with “wailing”. (5)

Jewish access to the site waxed or waned depending on the degree of anti-Jewish animus of particular rulers. Formal permission for Jews to worship routinely at the kotel was a product of Ottoman rule in the mid 16th century. Various 19th-century Ottoman administrative firmans reconfirmed the Jews’ ardently-sought right to visit the kotel, in the face of local Arab opposition, while upholding long-standing bans on new construction.

During the period of British administration of Palestine (1917-1948), strife surrounding the Jewish practice of praying at the kotel reflected the growing tensions between local Arabs and the increasing number of Jewish newcomers to the country. The strife came to a head in 1928-1929. On the Day of Atonement in late 1928, Orthodox prayer wardens placed a screen on the pavement perpendicular to the kotel. This was in keeping with Orthodox synagogue practice, to separate the men and the women during prayer. After receiving Arab complaints, British police removed the screen. In 1929, seizing on this opportunity, the local Arab mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, orchestrated a series of riots and massacres against Jewish settlers. He incited Arabs to violence by alleging that the Jews were violating the status quo at the Holy Sites and were plotting to seize the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, just above the southern corner of the kotel. (6)

Successive plans to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, in 1937 and in 1947, were accepted by Zionist leadership but rejected by the Arab world. When Israel declared its independence in 1948, Jordan was among the Arab states to invade its territory. In the fighting, the Jordanian legion ousted the Israeli defenders from the Old City of Jerusalem, including the kotel and its immediate environs, although Israeli forces controlled the western “New City”.

The armistice ending the fighting between Jordan and Israel took effect by 1949. Article VIII of the Armistice Agreement provided for Jordan to grant Israeli Jews access to the kotel, but Jordan refused to implement that clause. Consequently, no Israelis visited the kotel from 1949 until 1967.

4. The Wall in a Song of Longing

Shuly Nathan

Shuly Nathan, the singer chosen by Naomi Shemer
to perform “Jerusalem of Gold” at the 1967 festival
(Image source: http://www.shuly-nathan.co.il/gallery.en.html)

            At a Jerusalem song festival in May, 1967, commemorating the 19th anniversary of Israel’s independence, a Hebrew song about Jerusalem herself received its premiere The song, “Yerushalayim shel Zahav”, “Jerusalem of Gold”, composed by a leading Israeli songwriter of the 1960s, Naomi Shemer, expressed the longings of the Israeli and the Jew at being unable to enter the Old City and to complete a religious pilgrimage to the Western Wall. In her lyrics, Naomi Shemer evoked the pain of loss: “How the cisterns have dried/ The market place is empty/ And no one visits the Temple Mount /in the Old City”./ Within the rocky caves/ The winds are howling/ And no one descends to the Dead Sea/ By way of Jericho.”

The first stanza of “Jerusalem of Gold” contains a haunting reference to the kotel:

                        Uv’tardemat ’ilan va’even
                        Sh’vuyah bachalomah
                        Ha’ir asher badad yoshevet
                        U-v’libbah—chomah

Several popular translations or paraphrases of the song are current. These versions are meant to fit the prosody of the original melody. They do not reflect the poetic nuances of Shemer’s original lyrics. Moreover, —as translations seldom can—these renditions do not capture Shemer’s biblical allusions.

With these thoughts in mind, I offer the following translation of the second half of the first stanza. I have placed quotations around the biblical quote incorporated into the verse:

                        And in the trance of tree and stone,
                        Like a dreamer, held in thrall,
                        Is the city, who “dwells alone”
                        And in her heart — a wall.

Shemer’s allusion is to the biblical Book of Lamentations 1:1, “Alas, the city, once filled with people, now dwells alone…” That vision, of Jerusalem deserted, opens the biblical lament on the depopulated city whose inhabitants were slaughtered and their few survivors deported to Babylon. There are many references to Jerusalem in the Bible, quite a few of them optimistic. The choice of such a sad image emphasizes the deep sorrow of the songwriter, a Zionist Jew of her generation, beholding the age-old capital of the Jewish world barred from its people.

From start to finish, “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” is a love song, not to an individual, but to the city of Jerusalem.  In that song, the Wall serves as a synecdoche for the Old City of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem of sacred memory.

In the final stanza of the song, Shemer protests her relative lack of worth to be adorning Jerusalem, to be singing its praises: “I am lesser than the least of your children, the last of your lyricists.” The very mention of the city is staggering, in almost a sensuous manner. (7)

                        Key sh’mekh tsorev et ha-s’fatayim
                        Ke-n’shikat saraf
                        ‘im eshkakhekh yerushalayim
                        ‘Asher kulah zahav.

                        For your very name scorches the lips
                        Like the kiss of a seraph of old
                        “If I forget you, o Jerusalem”—
                        She who is all of gold. (8)

In this stanza, Shemer’s biblical quotation is of a Psalm text, and the more hidden allusion is to the inaugural vision of the prophet Isaiah.

Psalm 137 is the great lament of the refugees, sung upon their deportation to Babylon:

                        By the rivers of Babylon
                        There we sat down, and wept,
                        When we remembered Zion. (verse 1)

The conclusion of that Psalm is a vow, taken by the exiles, never to forget Jerusalem, on the pain of dire consequences:

                        If I forget you, o Jerusalem,
                        Let my dominant hand lose its dexterity
                        Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
                        If I set not Jerusalem above the foremost of my joys. (verse 6)

This verse is honored in Jewish popular culture in several artistic ways. There is a variety of creative responses to its mandate, to set “Jerusalem above the foremost of my joys”:

A home adornment seen in many traditional Jewish households is a mizrach, a plaque or wall hanging placed on the Jerusalem-facing interior wall of the house, filled with quotations and representations designed to call Jerusalem to mind. In this manner, the householder will not invoke the curse of the Exiles by valuing his home more than the Jerusalem home from which he has been exiled. Again, at traditional Jewish weddings, the dancing is high energy, especially the first set immediately following the formal beginning of the wedding meal. As a final song, and a signal to the musicians and dancers to return from delirium to dining, the band will play a traditional rendition of a song, “Jerusalem”.  In this musical manner, the revelers have avoided the sin of forgetting Jerusalem, even at a time of celebrating the joy of connubial bliss, arguably the “foremost joy” that a person can experience.

Shemer’s citation of this verse, therefore, signals an ardent quality to the pledge to remain mindful of Jerusalem and committed to its restoration.

The key to the allusion to Isaiah in the song’s final stanza is the species of angel mentioned in the lyric, the seraph. Shemer specified that order of angel, rather than any other, because “seraph”, from the Hebrew root s.r.ph = burn, means “fiery angel”.

In Isaiah, chapter 6, the prophet experiences his inaugural vision of God.  He envisions God holding court inside the Jerusalem Temple, with ministering angels surrounding His throne and chanting “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts…” Isaiah regards himself as unworthy to be in the presence of this numinous reality, because he himself is a mortal, a man of unclean lips.  But a seraph touches his lips with a glowing hot coal taken with tongs from the Temple altar, and reassures him that by this contact, the mortal’s sin has been taken away. After that, Isaiah hears the Divine Voice asking for a volunteer to accept the mission of prophesying to the People Israel, and Isaiah offers himself. (Isaiah 6:1-8)

For Shemer, the very name “Jerusalem” scorches the lips, but following the logic of the biblical text underneath her own, she can now be purified enough to fulfill the wish that is the refrain of the entire piece:

                        Ha-lo l’khol shirayikh
                        ‘Ani kinnor

                        For all of your songs,
                        Let me be the harp!

5. The People Have Returned to Their Wall—But They Are a House Divided

Paratroopers

Israeli Paratroopers at the kotel, June, 1967
(Photo by David Rubinger. Source:
https://www.idfblog.com/2012/05/20/three-faces-the-story-of-jerusalems-reunification/)

Shemer’s song proved to be timely as well as timeless. During the weeks encompassing the appearance of “Jerusalem of Gold”, in the Spring of 1967, the Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser—perhaps spurred by Soviet disinformation (9) – resumed the Arab quest to destroy the State of Israel. Egypt and its ally, Syria pressured a reluctant King Hussein of Jordan to join their alliance. Consequently, and against the hopes of Israel’s military planners, one of the fronts of battle during the Six Day War was Jerusalem. After heavy fighting, Israeli forces captured the city.

Israel’s Minister of Defense in 1967, General Moshe Dayan, described the return to the kotel as the symbol of the entire Israeli victory in the Six Day War:

                        There was one moment in the Six-Day War which symbolized the great victory: that                         was the moment in which the first paratroopers — under [General Moti] Gur‘s
                        command — reached the stones of the Western Wall, feeling the emotion of the                         place; there never was, and never will be, another moment like it. Nobody staged                         that moment. Nobody planned it in advance. Nobody prepared it and nobody was prepared                         for it; it was as if Providence had directed the whole >thing: the paratroopers weeping                         — loudly and in pain — over their comrades who had fallen along the way, the words of the
                        Kaddish [the prayer for the dead] heard by Western Wall’s stones after 19 years of silence,
                        tears of mourning,  shouts of joy, and the singing of “Hatikvah“. (10)

The new reality, in turn, found its expression in art. When composing her song, Naomi Shemer had no thought that within weeks, events would overtake the reality of the past 19 years of Israeli exclusion from the kotel. But after the surprising Israeli victory, and the reunification of Jerusalem, she penned a new stanza for her song:

                        Chazarnu el borot hamayim
                        Lashuk velakikar
                        Shofar kore’ behar habayit
                        Ba’ir ha’atikah

“We have returned to the cisterns/ to the market and the square/ a shofar sounds on the Temple Mount/ in the Old City”.

Even secular Israeli Jews—roughly 80% of Israeli Jews in 1967 were secular rather than Orthodox—were caught up in the spiritual excitement of being able to return to the kotel. Images of battle-hardened soldiers, praying and crying at the kotel, filled the nation’s news. In that atmosphere of crisis, followed by relief, Shemer’s song became a second national anthem. The subjunctive mood of the final line of the refrain, “let me be the harp”, became understood as an indicative declaration: “For all your songs, O Jerusalem, I am the harp.”

In the half-century since the Six Day War, Jerusalem has remained central to the national aspirations of the Jewish people, and the kotel, in its heart, has remained a focal point of Jewish concern.  In our era of ubiquitous cameras, a “kotel-cam” allows viewers world-wide to gaze upon the wall and the activities taking place in its vicinity, 24 hours a day. It is a destination of choice of millions of visitors from Israel and abroad each year. In the Hebrew month of Tishrei (September/October), the season of the Jewish High Holidays, numbers of visitors climb. A record 1.5 million visitors went to the kotel in Tishrei, 2009. (11)

But tensions endure. Security is tight at the kotel, because of concerns for the safety of the worshipers.

In addition to the stubbornly-persisting Arab-Israel dispute, involving claims and counter-claims about the significance of the kotel in Judaism and in Jewish history, there is also an intra-Jewish debate about access to the kotel. One of the significant religious developments within Judaism during the decades since 1967 has been the rise and growth of feminism within non-Orthodox Jewish religious communities. Non-Orthodox Jews do not separate men and women during worship, and in their worship services, women as well as men, sing or chant audibly. Both of those departures from pre-modern Jewish tradition are anathema to the Orthodox. Hence, the conduct of worship at the kotel has been a point of contention for decades.

Israel’s government, responding to political considerations—Orthodox political parties are in the ruling coalition– has typically sided with the Orthodox side of the debate. Even after negotiating compromises with the representatives of non-Orthodox Jewish groups about where groups of women may pray, the Israeli government has bowed to pressure from fervently Orthodox segment of the Israeli electorate and failed to honor those agreements. However, The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled against the government in this matter. It has mandated that one section of the kotel, the part most traditionally visited over the past several centuries, shall keep the gender-dividing screen erected by the Orthodox rabbinate, to satisfy the concerns of that portion of the faith community, but that another part of the kotel, closer to its southern terminus, should be open for egalitarian worship, men and women commingling and participating equally. The fervently orthodox, for their part, are seeking to enact new laws to undo the Supreme Court ruling. As of this writing, Israel’s interior minister, Aryeh Deri, representing the “Shas” orthodox political party, is introducing a bill into Israel’s parliament to criminalize non-gender segregated Jewish worship at any portion of the kotel. (12)

The situation remains unresolved today. In this instance, it is not the Wall that divides, but people’s contradictory views about what is appropriate in that symbolically important venue.

 

Amidst the welter of connotations, both positive and negative, about walls, perhaps a closing image, taken from the biblical book of Psalms, will serve as a reminder that the idealist still yearns for a radically better tomorrow, in which the sight of walls—Jerusalem’s walls, in particular— can inspire people to reaffirm the best of our hopes, not the worst of our fears.

                        Walk all about Zion, encircle her.
                        Count her towers, review her ramparts, scan her citadels.
                        Then tell her story to later generations;
                        Tell of our God Who will guide us forever. (Psalm 48:14-15)

 

Note: This essay is an independent meditation on walls, from a Jewish perspective, but it may be read as a companion piece to the earlier meditation that I published in Glossen 39 (2014), “There are People with Stony Hearts. There are Stones with Human Hearts” — on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall”.

 

Notes

  1. Archbishop Rüdiger’s charter has often been anthologized. See, among other sources, William W. Hallo, David B. Ruderman and Michael Stanislawski, eds, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews Source Reader. (NY: Prager Publishers, 1984), p. 123.
  1. On the establishment of the Frankfurt ghetto, the attack on the ghetto by the followers of Vincent Fettmilch in 1614, and the eventual physical and legal destruction of the ghetto during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic period, see A. Freimann and F. Kracauer, Frankfort, in the “Jewish Communities Series”, (Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1929), pp. 40-43, 95-104, 106-107, and 177-208.
  1. Imperial German protection of Jews of the Holy Roman Empire was a stable—if often inadequate— feature of Jewish political history for the half millennium following the massacres of Rhenish Jewry during the First Crusade, 1096. See Guido Kisch, The Jews in Medieval Germany (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1949), especially p. 34 and pp. 107-110.
  1. Gershom Scholem, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, trans. Joseph Dan (NY: Schocken Books, 1991) pp. 140-196. On Rabbi Akiva and the concept of God’s Divine Presence accompanying the Jewish people into their Exile, see Scholem, p. 148.
  1. Hence, the designation “Western Wall” is older than the usage “Wailing Wall”. See Hillel Halkin, “Philologos” column, Forward newspaper, January 12, 2001.
  1. Haj Amin al-Husseini was the father of modern Arab and Islamic politics. After inciting the anti-Jewish riots of 1929, he orchestrated the Palestinian Arab revolt against British authority in Palestine and against Jewish settlers, 1936-1938. With the British suppression of that revolt, he escaped to Berlin, where he was warmly welcomed by Adolf Hitler. Al-Husseini worked for the Nazi regime to recruit Bosnian Muslim soldiers for the SS. The Handzar division of the SS committed atrocities against Jews and partisans in France and in the Balkans. After the Nazi defeat, al-Husseini escaped to Cairo, where he mentored the young Yasser Arafat. He, thus, personally represented the link between Islamism and Nazism.  See Barry Rubin and Wolfganag Schwanitz, Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Yale University Press, 2014), pp. 150-152 and 230-233. While the U.S. State Department initiated procedures to bring al-Husseini to justice, the CIA intervened to protect him, and he ultimately died of natural causes in Beirut in 1974.
  1. Psychologists speak of “Jerusalem Syndrome”, a mental unbalancing experienced by certain religious souls upon encountering Jerusalem. On several occasions, in the course of my visits to Jerusalem, I have witnessed people, outlandishly garbed in pseudo-biblical costume, behaving erratically in public venues.
  1. My translation of this stanza, and of Psalm 137:6, below.
  1. See Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, Foxbats Over Dimona – The Soviets’ Nuclear Gamble in the Six-Day War, Yale University Press (New Haven & London, 2007). This work of investigative journalism relies on Soviet archives, opened to researchers only after the fall of the Soviet Union. The authors’ thesis is that, fearful of Israel’s progress towards attaining nuclear power, the Soviets incited the 1967 war by giving disinformation to Nasser. Their plan was to send their air force pilots to Egypt to fly their own advanced warplanes, MiG-25 fighters, known as “Foxbats”, disguised as Egyptian air force planes, and to bomb Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor. The Israeli destruction of the Egyptian air force in the first 90 minutes of fighting in the 1967 war thwarted that plan.
  1. Dayan’s recollections were quoted by Prime Minister Rabin in a 1995 address to the Israeli parliament on “Jerusalem Day”, the date on the Hebrew calendar corresponding to the anniversary of the Israeli victory in the battle of Jerusalem. Rabin himself had served as the Chief of State of the Israel Defense Forces in that war. See “Address to the Knesset by Prime Minister Rabin on Jerusalem, 29 May 1995”. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  1. Arutz Sheva / Israel National News, Oct. 19, 2009.
  1. “Haredi lawmakers look to outlaw mixed prayer at Western Wall”, The Times of Israel, Nov. 29, 2016. Regarding egalitarian public worship at the “Robinson’s Arch” location of the kotel: I myself have conducted such services at this alternate location on several occasions over the past decade.




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