In his whirlwind tour of the world, the hope of nations, Obama, spent some time in Jerusalem.
Like others who visit there, he left a note in the wall of the Temple, AKA the Wailing wall.
Yes, the deity doesn’t need notes or photos, but it’s a human thing to do such things, and similar customs are fairly widespread: from sprinkling pollen at Native American ceremonies, or my cousin placing a photo into the VietNam war memorial or the flowers we Pinays put onto Momma Mary’s statues to say thank you.
The deity needs no reminder, but we do: Psychologically such things are more meaningful than just whispering a wish.
But like silent prayers, they are private, and Christians, at least, are not only encouraged to attend public worship in solidarity with others but are also encouraged to close the door of our room and pray quietly, so our prayers don’t take on the air of bragging.
So when the news reported that the note left in the Temple mount wall by Barak Obama had been removed by a Yeshiva student, given to a newspaper and publicized, lots of people were upset:
The resulting coverage of Obama’s private, handwritten musings on hope and sin added to the mystique of his campaign visit to Israel but drew international criticism, including from leading rabbis who said Jewish morality had been compromised by the publication.
I was annoyed. Shesh. He’s not my candidate (I’m a Hillary Democrat) but a prayer is no one’s business. Can’t the press let the guy have a moment of peace and quiet?
Others were even more annoyed.
One Israeli attorney Shahar Alon, petitioned the Israeli Attorney General to investigate the newspaper that publicized the note:
“With its actions, in my opinion, the newspaper broke several clauses of the 1967 Preservation of Holy Sites Law and violated rights based on Basic Law – Respect for Man and his Freedom,” wrote Alon.
When the Jerusalem Post also reports that when questioned, the Obama campaign officials refused to confirm or deny it was his note, saying that they had not authorized the publication of the note.
But now The Plank Blog at the New Republic reports a different story:
….according to a statement from Ma’ariv yesterday, the paper alleges that the Obama campaign actually leaked the note to reporters before Obama even placed it in the wall.* Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s most popular daily, claims to have also received a copy of the note but decided not to print it.*
As a Ma’ariv spokesman told the Jerusalem Post:
Barack Obama’s note was approved for publication in the international media even before he put in the Kotel [Western Wall], a short time after he wrote it at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
The Obama Campaign continues to deny releasing the note to the public.
So presumably this should be called “Templewallgate” or “notegate”.
So quick: Is it a cynical political ploy, or an invasion of privacy?
Don’t ask me.
Note to Obama: When I write notes to God, I use shorthand.
I grew up with a sneaky brother who would read my diary…so learned at a young age if you wanted to keep private, you’d better guard against snoops.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.