Prayer Preyer

From the Jerusalem Post:

The yeshiva student who pried Barack Obama’s prayer note from the Western Wall has apologized.

Identified only by the first initial of his name, Aleph, and with his face obscured, the student went on Channel 2 television Sunday to confess that he took the presidential contender’s note last week and passed it to the press.

“I’m sorry. It was a kind of prank,” Aleph said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead. “I hope he wasn’t hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency.”

There have been calls for the Israeli newspaper that published the note to face a criminal investigation, while some right-wing US websites are suggesting that “Aleph” (or “Alef” in some reports) may have been working for the Obama campaign – the astonishing implication being that an American presidential candidate might be using religion to make himself look good.

The funny thing is, though, that an obscure outfit called “CoVisionsProductions” has posted to Youtube a low-quality video apparently showing three ultra-orthodox figures (looks like two students and an older man), swiping the prayer in full view of journalists and other worshippers.  According to the blurb, by a certain David Cohen:

…Seconds after Obama left the stones, some of his entourage stepped up to the wall (dressed in suits) and I recorded a young man gathering notes in his hands in what appeared to be the search for Obama’s freshly placed personal note. He is joined by others who unwrap notes and read them. [Footage includes] one person walking away from the wall with a note that he unwraps as he tries to aggressively block the camera lens.

Strangely, though, the prayer-pilferers don’t appear to mind a camera looming at them. There’s also a shot of an arm in a modern black jacket (at 19 seconds) reaching forward to extract one prayer request, and it’s not one of the three men we see clearly.

John McCain visited the Western Wall back in March, for what was obviously a purely private act of piety and mark of respect, with no political calculations at all.