Biblical Archaeology Review 33:6, November/December 2007

Past Perfect: A Visit to the Wailing Wall

Frenchwoman Colette Modiano has traveled through the Holy Land several times since her first visit in 1967. Her book, Turkish Coffee and the Fertile Crescent (London: Michael Joseph, Ltd, 1974;), describes the places she visited, the people she encountered, people’s impressions of her, and her impression of the burgeoning relations among countries in the early 1970s.

By four o’clock [on Friday afternoon], the Via Dolorosa was deserted and overlaid with shadows. Women do not sit in cafes, still less alone, and my neighbor’s disapproval bordered on contempt. Unbuttoned and collarless, with a filthy black beret and a barbarous beard, he puffed ever more noisily at a hubble-bubble.

The streets are never quiet for long here, and soon there were Orthodox priests with black beards and tubular head-dresses, American girls with maxi-thighs and mini-skirts, hippies showing their navels or sweating in embroidered goatskin gear, tourists and more tourists, and Israeli soldiers walking with a child or a girl-friend. A young man and two Jewish girls in trousers greeted a young Arab sitting near me.

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