Obama Visits Western Wall; Hears Psalm and Heckling

By Jaketapper

Jul 23, 2008 11:41pm

Before heading to the airport to depart for Germany, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, came to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem for a pre-dawn visit, arriving at 5:01 am local time.

The visit did not appear on the official schedule nor had it been anounced by the campaign, but dozens of people were waiting for him, apparently tipped off.

At 5:11 am, Obama –a white yarmulke atop his head, a pack of Secret Service agents surrounding him — walked from the motorcade with a small group of men to a sectioned off area of the Western wall of the Temple Mount, traditionally considered the last remnant of the Holy Temple.

Men and women are separated at the Wall, and a female Secret Service agent and two female Obama communications staffers went to the women’s side.

One of the men with Obama, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, the Rabbi of the Wall, read Psalm 122 to the small group from a Bible, “A Song of Ascents of David.”

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord,’” read the Rabbi. “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.”

Rabinovich gave Obama a big book that described thie history of the Wall.

The pre-dawn sky was dark.

And then one man at the Wall began screaming: “Obama, Jerusalem is our land! Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale!”

He kept yelling this for Obama’s entire 10 minutes at the Wall, refusing to stop despite repeated entreaties to do so from the crowd.

Obama chatted with the men with whom he’d come to the Wall, before walking to the Wall to place a note he had previously written between the Wall’s cracks. He put his hand on the Wall, bowed his head and appeared contemplative.

The heckler, not an Obama fan, continued yelling.

Obama turned from the Wall and walked back to his crowd. Some young men tried to drown out the heckler, chanting, “Obama! Obama! Obama!”

After shaking some hands, Obama got back in his motorcade and headed to the airport.

“It was rowdier than the last time I was there, you know?” Obama told reporters on the plane. “I mean, people were sort of, like, holerin’. You know I was expecting more reverence.”

- jpt

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