Palestinian Wailing at the Wall

I was recently lent a copy of a late Victorian tour book of ‘Palestine’. Dating from 1895, it embodies the West’s re-engagement with the Holy Land after the debacles of the crusades. Intrepid Victorian travellers braved the imperial Ottoman administration to access the sacred sites of the Bible. Note the 1895 photograph of the Western Wall. Its access is rather cramped and narrow. Contrast that with my photograph taken in the summer, showing a spacious approach to this holiest of sites.

After the 1967 war, Israel razed the Moroccan Quarter, a ramshackle neighbourhood of Palestinian homes in front of the Western Wall. Populated by some of the very poorest, buses were laid on to relocate them to refugee camps or Lebanon. Although it should be noted that no-one was forced to leave the city, it is worth considering that the lovely vista of the wall we now enjoy came at a very human price.