Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz’s plan to name a future train station next to the Kotel after President Donald Trump shows a dramatic misunderstanding of the place of the Western Wall in Jewish tradition.
The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday morning that Katz said:
“The Western Wall is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and I decided to name the train station that leads to it after president Trump – following his historic and brave decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”
While other United States presidents have Israeli streets or small public areas named after them, these are mostly ceremonial recognitions of the ties between the two countries and thanks for continued support of the Jewish state.
But dedicating a train station, at the base of the holiest site in all of Judaism, is a step beyond merely honoring a man; it sanctifies his name. Trump’s name will be there, in huge lettering, just steps away from the spot where G-d and man meet.
Besides for all of the strong arguments for why Trump’s name should not be on the Kotel train station I would like to add another reason: the station should not be named after anyone, or at least no-one outside of Biblical history. While it will not itself be a religious site, the station will serve as a central hub for millions of Jews (and others) who visit the Temple Mount to engage in prayer with G-d. To dedicate the space to any man or woman would not only be an invitation to disagreement, but an indication that an individual is responsible for Israeli control of the Old City. The connection between the Jewish people and Har Habayit is eternal, not due to the particulars of Donald Trump’s international policy.
Israel and the Jewish people need to act like a strong independent nation, honoring its own history, its own people, and its own religion for the most cherished spaces within its country. While Trump will no doubt deserve to have public spaces display his name, the Kotel train station is not the appropriate venue for an honor.