Western Wall

Known as al-Buraq Wall in Arabic or HaKotel in Hebrew. Also known as The Wailing Wall in English. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem adjacent to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary). Jews have come for centuries to pray at the Wall (which is, after the Temple Mount itself, the holiest place in Judaism) and have a tradition of leaving notes with prayers written on them in the cracks of the Wall. Jewish reverence for the Western Wall stems from its being a remnant of the Second Jewish Temple, specifically, part of a retaining wall of the Temple Mount, though only part of the Wall actually dates from the Second Temple period. The Wall is also sacred in Islam, as it is believed that the Prophet Muhammed tethered his winged steed Buraq on or near the Wall during his miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. Many Arab leaders, including in the Palestinian Authority, have denied that Jews have historic and religious connections to the Wall, or to Jerusalem. From 1948-1967, the Western Wall (and all the Old City of Jerusalem) was under Jordanian control and Jews did not have access to pray there. When Israel captured the Old City in the 1967 War and renewed access to the Wall after 19 years, many Jews received this as an emotional and historic event. The Palestinian Mughrabi Quarter of the Old City, which was adjacent to the Wall, was razed in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 War, displacing 650 people in order to build what is now the Western Wall Plaza. Haram al-Sharif/The Temple Mount and the Western Wall itself are flash points for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, due to their religious significance to both Muslims and Jews, and due to Palestinian fears that any excavations or other such work around or near those sites will damage Al-Aqsa mosque or are connected to other forms of religious, political and military control of the area. This fear has a basis; there are Jewish extremist groups whose goal is to rebuild a Jewish Temple on what is now Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. See "Western Wall Feud Heightens [no-lexicon]Israeli[/no-lexicon]-Palestinian Tensions," Isabel Kershner, The New York Times, November 25, 2010; and "At the Western Wall, the sacred stones might become the stepping stone for Third Temple dreams," Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz, May 15, 2013. See also "Rare photograph reveals ancient Jerusalem mosque destroyed in 1967," Nir Hasson, Haaretz, Jun 15, 1012.

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