CAMERA’s Israel office today prompted corrections of numerous Agence France Presse photo captions from earlier this month which erroneously identified the Western Wall as Judaism’s holiest site. In fact, the Temple Mount, where the First and Second Jewish Temples once stood, is Judaism’s holiest site.
Samples of the many erroneous captions, all relating to the coronavirus epidemic, follow:
Ultra-Orthodox Jews attend a special prayer for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping a distance of two meters from one another at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem on March 25, 2020, following light restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Menahem Kahana/AFP
Worshippers wearing the traditional Jewish prayer shawls known as Tallit pray as they keep distance of two meters between each other at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem on March 23, 2020 following tight restrictions to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus disease MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP
Women wearing protective masks pay a visit to the nearly deserted Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, after Israel has imposed some of the world’s tightest restrictions to contain COVID-19 coronavirus disease, in Jerusalem on March 20, 2020. Israel imposed a two-week quarantine on all travellers entering the country, almost stopping tourism and limiting public gatherings as officials confirmed its 100th case of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP
The Western Wall is a retaining wall of the Temple Mount, and its holiness derives from its proximity to the Temple Mount itself. The Holy of Holies, within the Temple, was permissible to enter just once a year – when only the High Priest was granted entry on the most sacred day of Yom Kippur. In Jewish tradition, theEven Hashtiyah, or foundation stone upon which the whole world was created, is located on the Temple Mount.
AFP’s usual formulation accurately refers to the Western Wall “as the holiest place where Jews can pray.” This is true, as Israeli law prohibits Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, Islam’s third-holiest site. (Most recently, the correct references appeared in AFP articles on March 6 and March 19).
In response to communication from CAMERA, editors commendably corrected all of the inaccurate captions from earlier this month appearing in the AFP photo archive. The captions now accurately refer to the Western Wall as “the holiest site where Jews can pray.”