A year ago, the Jerusalem Western Wall (Wailing Wall) Heritage Foundation conducted a survey of the state of the wall, the only remaining part of the Second Temple, which the Romans destroyed in 70 A.D.

The survey revealed the deterioration of the stones in the wall. This led the Israel Antiquities Authority to take urgent action and conduct an extensive physical and engineering study of the wall’s condition. This culminated with the submission of a plan to conserve one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

The plan focuses on the conservation treatment of the stones in the Western Wall and their stability, in accordance with their degree of preservation and the level of risk they present to the visiting public.

The project to conserve the stones in the Western Wall, in particular, and the conservation and development of the Western Wall compound in general, is one of the most complex projects of its kind ever undertaken in Israel.

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The Jerusalem Western Wall compound project is an example of the enormous task that confronts us in conserving and presenting Israel’s cultural heritage. It is important on both the national and international levels because the site sees large numbers of visitors.

Consequently, it needs constant maintenance, and preserving the wall’s appearance for the future is a serious challenge.

This undertaking requires knowledge and professionalism in a wide range of fields.

The project is being directed by the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department, which is staffed with architects, engineers and conservators who specialize in different areas.

The conservation department manifests the authority’s obligation to create a body that will lead the way in the field of conservation in Israel, as a result of the state’s responsibility to the cultural heritage in its territory.

In touching the stones of the Western Wall, the conservators of the Israel Antiquities Authority are touching what has been the very heart of Jewish heritage for generations.

The Israel Conservation Department is engaged in preserving heritage sites that date to a variety of periods. A professional team of 55 people implements the conservation work: conservators, architects, engineers, planners, chemists, geologists and archaeologists.

David Bedein can be contacted at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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