One would think that the Israelis would know better — and the Los Angeles Times, too, for that matter.  After Barack Obama visited the Western Wall and left the traditional prayer note in one of its crevices, someone stole it and gave it to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, which published its contents.  The Times repeated the offense in its coverage:

Barack Obama’s visit to the Western Wall was a public event. The handwritten prayer the presidential candidate left there was meant to be private.

But as soon as he doffed the requisite skullcap and left, a snoop pulled a folded piece of paper from a crevice in the ancient wall and offered it to the mass-circulation daily Maariv. The Hebrew-language newspaper’s decision to publish it Friday, under the headline “Obama’s note,” provoked a storm of criticism in Israel over an intrusion into his relationship with God. …

Shmuel Rabinovitz, the rabbi who manages Judaism’s holiest site, was furious at the snoop and Maariv.

“The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker,” he told Army Radio. “It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them.” The publication, he added, “damages the Western Wall and damages the deep, personal part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves.”

No one doubts that Obama meant his visit to the Wall as a public event. WND reported that Obama’s campaign even distributed campaign posters for supporters to hang on police barricades, which is pretty tacky, if true.   (The posters were certainly there.)  However, the prayer note should have been respected as a private communication between Obama and God, not exploited for circulation boosting.

The Anchoress writes:

I’m kind of appalled that anyone took his prayer out of that wall, more appalled that it was made public, and incredibly appalled that some a faith-based site is “fisking” the prayer while a few bloggers (and forum commenters) are daring to mock it or to judge its content as being insufficient because it does not mention his country, or Israel.

To which I have to reply – to anyone enjoying or exploiting the theft of this prayer, or judging it: “screw that. You don’t get to decide on or judge another’s prayer.” …

None of us are perfect – none of us pray perfectly – and good heavens most of us would not like the deepest parts of our prayer put out there for public judgment and mockery. I know I wouldn’t. My prayers, unless I’m clearly sharing them with others, are between me and God, and they’re no one else’s damn business.

This is, I think, the cult of celebrity at its ugliest.  It would be akin to bugging a confessional to hear a Catholic candidate’s private conversation between his priest and the Lord.  It assumes no boundaries, no privacy, regardless of the lack of relevance to the issues at hand.  We’re not electing a Pope; we’re electing a President, and his private entreaties to God should remain private.

Shame on the man who stole this note, and the several others who stole the notes of others in their search for Obama’s.  Shame on Maariv and the Times, and anyone else who published Obama’s prayer.  Maybe all of them should be praying to get a life.