The Israeli newspaper Maariv was sharply criticized for publishing the contents of a prayer note Barack Obama left in a crack of Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
But a Maariv spokesman now says that publication of the note was approved ahead of time by the Obama campaign.
Obama was following a centuries-old tradition when he left his note in the Wall during a pre-dawn visit last Thursday. The note began, “Lord — protect my family and me.”
After Obama left the scene, a seminary student removed Obama’s note from the wall and passed it on to Maariv, which published it on Friday.
The rabbi in charge of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitz, said publishing the note intruded on Obama’s relationship with God, and called the action “sacrilegious” and a “desecration of the holy site.”
But a Maariv spokesman told the Jerusalem Post: "Barack Obama's note was approved for publication in the international media even before he put in the [Western Wall], a short time after he wrote it at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.”
Obama's campaign did not confirm or deny whether the prayer published by Maariv was in fact written by Obama.
But Israel Insider newsmagazine observed: “If the Maariv statement about pre-approval of publication of the note is true, it would mean that the Obama campaign had managed the event brilliantly, if deceptively, getting the double benefit of appearing to be victimized by the invasive Israeli press and [a] prayer-thieving Jew while at the same time leaking out his humble Christian plea to the Lord.”
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