US President Barack Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel prayed peacefully at the Western Wall on Thursday after police detained right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, and after Emanuel successfully evaded the press.When
the Emanuels visited the market in the Muslim Quarter, they were
greeted by vendors who said, “Asalam aleikum,” Arabic for “welcome and
peace be upon
you.” After they left, the vendors criticized Emanuel, calling him an
Israeli representative in the White House who could not be trusted.
Emanuel and his family are in Israel on a private visit to celebrate the bar mitzvas of his son Zach and his nephew Noah. The bar mitzvas are expected to take place this weekend at the Davidson Center and Robinson’s Arch areas near the Wall.
mitzva faces court challenge
the elusive Rahm Emanuel
The press followed Emanuel and his family around the Old City, but police constantly kept the media from getting too close. Emanuel then surprised the media entourage by sending Zach to the Western Wall with the holy site’s Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, while he remained behind.
Zach Emanuel inserted a written prayer into a crack in the wall amid a bustling crowd of reporters. An hour later, after most of the press had left, Rahm Emanuel came back with Zach and cried as he prayed at the Wall.
“He really played a good trick on the media and the Right,” an eyewitness to Emanuel’s visit said. “No one ended up yelling at him. People received him warmly, shook his hand, and said mazel tov, and he thanked them in Hebrew.” Earlier, when the family visited the Jewish Quarter’s ancient Cardo shopping area, Ben-Gvir shouted at Emanuel from the street above before a large group of police surrounded him and dragged him away.
“Traitor, Jerusalem is not for sale!” Ben-Gvir shouted at Emanuel in a mix of Hebrew and English. “You’re an anti-Semitic Israel-hater. You don’t want the Wall to remain ours. Go on a heritage trip with Hussein Obama! Go to Iran!” As police dragged him away, he screamed, “He is a hater of Israel, you can’t shut me up!” Moments later, inside the Western Wall Plaza, undercover police officers suddenly moved in on Marzel, who had apparently tried to blend in with the large Thursday-morning crowd at the Wall, in advance of Emanuel’s arrival.
A handful of officers removed Marzel, who had refused to budge, by picking him up and carrying him by his arms and legs away from the area. A couple of Marzel’s supporters were also removed by police. A total of six activists were detained and released after questioning.
The Emanuels’ rabbi in Virginia, Jack Moline, also came to Israel for
the bar mitzva celebrations. Exact plans for the event are still being
kept a tight secret, due to concerns that Emanuel will again be heckled.
“I don’t know if Rahm Emanuel is Jewish, but I do know that if his
dreams come true and force the division of the land along pre-1967
lot of children won’t be able to have bar mitzvas at the Wall,”
Ben-Gvir said. “I have an obligation to come protest and call him a
hater of Israel. There will be no violence, and I don’t intend to ruin
the bar mitzva, but I will say that he is not welcome here.”