Archaeologist Decries “Pluralistic” Kosel Plan

The section that will be prepared for prayer for the Women of the Wall, by Robinson's Arch. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The section that will be prepared for prayer for the Women of the Wall, by Robinson’s Arch. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An objection to the government’s plan to create a “pluralistic” space at the Kosel came from an unexpected direction on Monday, as a Hebrew University archaeologist pointed out that it would block viewing of unique evidence of the destruction of Bayis Sheni.

Dr. Eilat Mazar of the university’s archaeology institute told Arutz Sheva: “In the archaeological park at the foot of the Kosel there is only one section that is exposed and can be viewed. All the rest is underground. This is the southernmost section where the Herodian Quarter from the days of Bayis Sheni are preserved the way they were,” she said.

Mazar added that “in the excavations of my grandfather Professor (Binyamin) Mazar, a giant rockslide of the walls that the Romans destroyed on the Temple Mount was discovered.”

She noted that a rockslide from the walls destroyed by the Romans was excavated over the years, and “when they expanded the archaeological park, they moved the southern portion of Herodian road. What remains from all this impressive massive rockslide of these great stones is just a pile of a few dozen yards in a very narrow portion in this section.”

That, she said, is where the Reform and Conservative want to have their prayer site.

The plan is to take the existing ramp established for the prayer section in 2013 and extend it up to the Kosel, thereby hiding the rockslide “and not leaving anything from it; maybe it will appear like a sample that will look like a joke but not like historical evidence.”

“The person who planned it did so unilaterally … from political considerations … without looking at the essential aspect which is the history and the heritage of Yerushalayim, which needs to be felt and not just known about.”

She argued that no other place around the Kosel offers such a clear illustration of the destruction of the walls.

“This isn’t a place that you can cover and say, ‘Imagine to yourselves what was here.’ There are huge stones there, there is the artwork that decorated Har Habayis and it’s all inside the rockslide. …If there will be a ramp on top of it, that will be a total destruction of the appearance. It just can’t be done.”

Mazar urged that another site be found.

An additional objection came from a completely different source on Monday — the Grand Mufti of Yerushalayim, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein.

He condemned the plan as an encroachment on Islamic waqf property, and branded it as
“a brutal attack on the waqf and additional evidence of the Israeli aggression against Muslim holy places, in an attempt to Judaize Yerushalayim.”