About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from Israel,” Ari
Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to
join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two
sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two
countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this "point
- counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part
of our lives.
War: Outside the Walls of the Temple Mount
Holy War: The Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount
Delegitimization from Within
Slaughter of Israel
Would Stand By Israel
Well Coordinated Attack
& Speak Out
Bunch These Jewish People
They Burned Books
Indicators of Our Time
Candles of Darkness
December 1, 2009
Palestine, Stand Proud Israel
for Israel, But Why?
Blaming the Messenger
for Our Country, Fighting for our Lives
A Holy War: Outside the Walls of the Temple Mount
July 22, 2010
Some believe the Jewish Temple still exists, but is invisible to the ordinary
person. Part of the belief is that it ascended to heaven and will reemerge when
the Messiah arrives. I must admit when first presented with this concept, I
found it quite incredible. I now retract my own doubts, for I witnessed the
impossible, making it easier for me to grasp the enormity of the pronunciation.
All that is needed is to change our frame of reference.
Imagine you live in a house. You go down to the basement and drill a hole into
the ground, a well of sorts. One such hole can be used to dump garbage or
sewage, a disposal or storage tank. Another can be used to bring up water from
the underground, like a well.
Now you are standing some distance underneath, inside the ground. You are in a
large cistern, with arches overhead and a pool of water beneath. Above the
ceiling is another world altogether, a house and adjacent to it a church. The
house is unaware you exist, the occupants believing they are on solid ground.
All that was needed was a change of the frame of reference.
Still in the house, that is not imaginary at all, you decided to dig further and
found a chamber, at times a whole set of chambers, thus extending your house to
much greater dimensions. We are Alice who wonders through the cabinet to another
Now, join me on a tour. We enter just to the northwest of the Western Wall (Kotel,
in Hebrew), at the corner of the 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet) plaza
before the Kotel. It is a very hot and humid, sunny day outside, and we are
delighted to escape to the coolness. Our first stop is underneath an arch. We
are part of a group of some 50 people, and the arch is enormous, allowing us to
stand in comfort as other groups arrive.
Our guide points to the several levels below us. We stand above an abyss
watching the ongoing archeological excavations. The site is quite amazing, cool
and comfortable, as we start on our journey into the earth, along the Western
"Wait,” I say. "The Western Wall is outside, extending 19 meters high (62’) and
57 meters long (187’). There are 28 stones that make up the height of the Kotel
outside.” But apparently there are 17 additional stones underneath, unexposed,
at a depth of additional 13 meters (43’). Taken altogether, from base to full
height, the Kotel is only a portion of what once was the Western Wall. It once
extended 60 meters (197’) into the air.
Our guide explains we are stopped under an arch of a bridge leading into the
Temple Mount. Currently, it is completely underground, but once was a major
Hundreds of thousands of Jews would ascend to Jerusalem three times a year and
roads were needed to accommodate them. A water supply was also necessary, both
for drinking and for bathing (physical and spiritual purification) before
entering the Temple Mount. The area bustled with commercial activity, from money
exchange to various vendors, not much different from today.
We continue our descent into the tunnel. Think of a rectangle within a
rectangle. The Kotel outside is like a window on the side of a building, the
Western Wall. 2,000 years ago, it was several floors above ground and there were
several floors further above it. The Wall itself extends a length of 488 meters
(1,600’) to a height of 60 meters (192’). Thus, we still have some 320 meters of
the Western Wall under the streets and houses of the Old City of Jerusalem.
If you told me there was an ancient city beneath the streets of Jerusalem, I
would not have believed you. But as we walked alongside the full length of the
Western Wall, as we reached the point closest to where the Holy of Holies once
stood (and some say still stands) and as we continued to the point where the
very rock of the mountain was the corner stone for the Jewish Temple, I could
not contain my amazement.
Once there was a road that surrounded the Wall where people congregated, traded
and rested. The road begins at the same corner point, then disappears into the
ground, as it was along the base of the Wall. We were walking along another
road, midway up the wall and way above us were today’s houses, stores and
streets of the Old City.
Below us are huge, carefully crafted stones, with outer-edge frames, each stone
hewn in Herodian style some 2,000 years ago. They constitute a pile that has
become the ground on which the road where we now walk was constructed.
1,940 years ago this coming Tuesday, the 20th of July, on the Ninth of the month
of Av, 70CE (AD), the Romans destroyed the Second Temple that was surrounded by
four supporting walls, one on each side of the four winds. The Romans chiseled
away the stones of these supporting walls, one at a time, throwing them to the
surrounding plazas and streets underneath. We know that since the stones still
lie there. Some of the stones were enormous, weighing upwards of five tons (ten
The idea was the utter and complete destruction of Jewish presence via the
obliteration of the very essence, or heart of the Jews. Tear the heart out, kill
the Jews! Stone after stone they continued, from a height of 60 meters they
managed to descend some 30 or 40 meters. This was an enormous achievement, but
their hatred was both a catalyst and driving motivation. Nothing would stop
Not quite, for the demarcations of God’s Temple were magically protected. The
Romans were forced to stop after immense effort, leaving a magnificent base of
the Western Wall, unexposed above ground and yet accessible in a
As with most things in the Bible, there is a "logical” explanation that helps
rational skeptics, comprehend the "magic.” One of the stones "mid-way” was 3.5
meters (11.5’) tall and 13.6 meters (44.6’) long. Some estimates put the weight
of this "single stone” at 570 tons, or about 1.14 million pounds. As much as the
Romans tried, they were unable to break or move it and it remained, protecting
all the layers beneath. An amazing engineering feat or glorious plans by the
As we began ascending at the end of the tour, we exited into the Via Dolorosa,
emerging from the Jewish holiest site to that of the Christians’. The security
guards surrounding the group now became very attentive as a group of innocent
tourist is ripe prey for the predators surrounding us.
We were reminded that the third element of the three major monotheistic
religions is not peaceful, its intentions threatening and methods unmistaken. We
were thankful for the security guards, saddened by the very need, alarmed by the
We completed the walk back to today’s Western Wall Plaza above ground.
From 1948 to 1967, under Muslim rule, Jews were forbidden to pray next to the
Western Wall. Today the threat is even greater, for the mountaintop may serve as
a catalyst, a ruse, a convenient opportunity for the break of the great clash of
civilizations—modernity and 7th Century, 21st Century and barbarism—the spark
that could ignite World War III.
For the past 43 years, excavations at the Western Wall "Jewish side” were
conducted most carefully, under both religious and scientific supervision
including historians, archeologists and engineers. Part of the Western Wall was
exposed, along with the plazas, roads and bridges made of arches leading to the
Temple Mount. But we do not know what was exposed on the other ("Muslim”) side
and what purpose it may ultimately serve.
On the "Jewish side,” millions of tourists pass, of all faiths, of all
nationalities. They come, they respect and are gifted with an experience they
will cherish the rest of their lives. On the "Muslim side,” where the Jewish
Holy of Holies once stood, and is now lifted into the atmosphere to avoid
desecration by hatred and calls to murder the Jews, there must be the very same
spaces. Another city-underneath-the-City. What evil secrets does it shelter
The two are separated by one wall that has stood now for close to two thousand
years and was formed by massive, ancient stones, glued by a magical
construction. Immovable, either by man or by the forces of nature, they mark and
protect, they remind and separate. They are a monument to the story that cannot
be rebuked by the removal of tons of earth mixed with historical, archeological
and Biblical artifacts by the other side.
There, in the spaces of the "Muslim side,” preparations are undoubtedly underway
for the day when the work of the Romans will be completed. Muslims will be
called to ascend to the Temple Mount, and protect it from the Jews, Zionists and
Israelis. Yet, what the Romans were unable to achieve 1,940 years ago, what
Hitler was unable to complete 65 years ago, and what they are attempting to
usher in the very near future, will not succeed.
They will fail once again for there is a greater design, a protective "magic”
that surrounds the Holy City. Who knows, if we truly believe, possibly the
Temple will once again descent from Heaven to Earth, and we will witness the
miracle in our lifetimes.
You are invited to take the same journey via a virtual tour at thekotel.org, or
come and visit Israel and Jerusalem, the Kotel and the Western Wall Tunnels to
live this experience yourself.