Top Archaeologist: Egalitarian Platform At Western Wall Damaging Antiquities

Israeli members of the liberal Jewish religious group Women of the Wall wear 'Tallit', traditional Jewish prayer shawls for men, as they pray at the Western Wall plaza outside the women's section in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 24, 2016, after they were banned from conducting the first-ever' women's priestly …
GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV – One of Israel’s foremost archaeologists last week filed a petition to the High Court demanding the removal of a recently built mixed-gender prayer platform by the Western Wall, saying it was “damaging rare archaeological findings” in the area.

In his petition, Prof. Dan Bahat told the court that “in order to satisfy a religious minority that has already refused to be satisfied four times, the history of the Jewish people is being casually trampled on.”

Following a campaign spearheaded by the Women of the Wall, a pluralistic prayer section was built over archaeological remains with the approval of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Bahat’s petition argues that the platform is damaging the site “which constitutes a window into Jewish history.”

He slammed the IAA for what he called giving in to political pressures.

“The status of the IAA as an independent authority, disconnected from the government, assigns it the status of a gatekeeper whose role is to stand as a buffer between political, public, or other considerations, and archaeological and scientific-professional. Despite this, the IAA made a clearly unreasonable decision based on outside political considerations while ignoring the professional considerations,” Bahat wrote.

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