Jerusalem (Jul. 8)
The suitable enlargement of the pavement in front of the Wailing Wall where the Jews pray, even if such enlargement involved the exchange of Wakf property for similar property elsewhere, was suggested during the World War by Jamal Pasha, Turkish commander in Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall Commission was told this morning by David Yellin, former vice-mayor of Jerusalem.
Mr. Yellin gave the Commission the details of his interview at the Turkish headquarters on the Mount of Olives when he, Chief Rabbi Franko, Albert Antebi and Dritzhak Levi waited on the Turkish commander-in-chief to thank him for not deporting these and other Jewish leaders as he had intended. The Jews later submitted maps and plans for the proposed enlargement, Mr. Yellin said, but the plan was not revived.
Himself a member of the Jewish committee presenting the Jewish case before the Commission, Mr. Yellin testified that he had read extensively in Arabic and Islamic literature. He said that he was well acquainted with the legend regarding the Prophet Mohammed’s celestial journey but stated that he had never heard nor found any reference that the Wailing Wall and the spot where Mohammed’s mythical horse, Burak, was tethered were identical or sacred to the Moslems. As an orthodox Jew he testified that he had never visited the Haram area.
Cross-examining Mr. Yellin, Abdul Auni Bey, Arab counsel, deprecated the Jewish witness’s alleged attempt to reduce the sanctity of Burak. Mr. Yellin denied this, saying that he had only cited well-known authorities “whom Auni Bey tried to belittle.”
Mr. Yellin said that archaeologists disagree whether certain visible layers on the Wall date from Solomon’s time, but almost all agree, he stated, that the lowest courses are Solomonic and there was never any doubt among the Jews that the Wall is a remnant from Solomon’s Temple.
Mezah Pachachi Bey, former diplomatic agent of Iraq in London, the first important Arab witness to take the stand to testify before the Wailing Wall Commission, testified at yesterday afternoon’s session. He said he had come to Palestine especially to testify before the Commission as the representative of the committee established in Iraq for the protection of Moslem rights in Palestine, including El Burak (Moslem name for the Wailing Wall).
Pachachi Bey testified that he never knew that El Burak was called the Wailing Wall. He stated that he had written many letters to the High Commissioner, the members of the Shaw Commission and to the League of Nations regarding El Burak which he termed sacred to the Moslems because it is mentioned in the Koran and is part of the Mosque of Aksa.
MOSLEMS TURN TO BURAK
The praying Moslem before turning towards Mecca turns toward the Mosque of Aksa, Pachachi Bey declared, and therefore the Moslems object to the Jews adopting the Wall as a synagogue. The Moslems in Iraq and India who were excited “over the approaching establishment of a synagogue at the Wall would be equally excited if a church were contemplated at the Wall,” the witness said.
Cross-examined by Dr. Mordecai Eliash, chief of the counsel for the Jews, Pachachi Bey said that El Burak was not the only reason for the establishment of the committee in Iraq to protect Moslem rights in Palestine. He couldn’t say whether El Burak and the Wailing Wall were identical and he did not know whether the Moslem Supreme Council’s guidebook to the Mosque area refers to the Wailing Wall.
HAS NOT HEARD OF BEFOULING
He himself, Pachachi testified, visited the Wall in 1927 and in 1929. Regarding Jewish complaints that the Moslems had built a latrine near the Wall, Pachachi said he would have hanged a Moslem guilty of such action but he said he had not heard of anybody befouling the place.
Other Moslem notables present at today’s sessions included Abdul Kaha Mouzakki, former member of the Egyptian government; Osman Beyhoum, vice-president of the Moslem Supreme Council of Beirut; Abu Bakr El Ashharj, representing the Moslem Association of Java and Gazer Mauski Bey, Persian commercial attache in Egypt.
An exhaustive description of numerous visits to the Wailing Wall was contained in an affidavit presented to the Commission at yesterday’s morning session on behalf of Rev. Christie, the oldest English resident of Tiberias, who because of advanced age was unable to testify in person. His affidavit described his trips to the Wall where he saw individual and congregational services by the Jews with all the appurtenances.
TELLS OF VISITS TO WALL
Commenting on Rev. Christie’s affidavit, Chairman Loefgren said it might be necessary for the Commission to go to Haifa or Tiberias to arrange for a cross-examination of the aged English minister. Another affidavit from Rev. Judah Slotki, principal of a Hebrew school in Manchester, England, sworn before Samuel Finburgh, mayor of Salford, England, June 19, stated that in 1890 he had visited the Wailing Wall with his father and had wanted to sit on the stools that were there. His father informed him that the chairs and other appurtenances were reserved for the aged.