Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama wound up his two-day visit to Israel Thursday morning with a pre-dawn visit to the Western Wall (Kotel), where he and his wife quietly read Psalm 122.
The Psalm is a prayer for peace for the city, where the Temple Mount site behind the Western Wall is the holiest place for Jews around the world. Sen. Obama did not speak with reporters about his recent retraction of a statement that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel.
After having made the pronouncement at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting, furious Arab criticism forced him to explain that he actually meant that Jerusalem should not be divided by barbed wire, as it was during the Jordanian occupation of eastern Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967.
He and his wife spent about 10 minutes at the Kotel, where he wore a white skullcap (kippa) and was escorted by the Western Wall's Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich.
He silently read the Psalm, which states:
"A Song of Ascents of David. I rejoiced when they said unto me: 'Let us go unto the house of HaShem. Our feet are standing within thy gates, O Jerusalem; Jerusalem, that is built as a city that is compact together; Whither the tribes went up, even the tribes of HaShem, as a testimony unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of HaShem.
The built-up Jerusalem, as a city that is compact together.
"For there were set thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
"For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say: 'Peace be within thee.'"
After completing the Psalm, he observed the widespread tradition of putting a small note between the rocks of the Western Wall but did not reveal what he wrote.
As he left, many people tried to shake his hand, and one voice cried out, "Jerusalem is not for sale."