Overnight the Ateret Cohanim organization, dedicated to rebuilding Jewish life throughout the whole of the Old City and its environs successfully entered 15 families into three newly acquired buildings in Jerusalem’s Shiloach (Silwan) neighborhood.
The acquisition of the three buildings and the subsequent move into them nearly doubles the amount of families living in Jewish Silwan aka the Shiloach or Yemenite Village. Acquiring property in majority Arab areas of Jerusalem is hard to do, however it is not out of the ordinary – so why is this event such a game changer?
Putting aside the historical justice of Jews returning to a formerly Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the events of last night and this morning are important from a geopolitical perspective.
Shiloach or Silwan has always been the corridor that the Palestinian Authority wanted to use to claim access to Jerusalem’s Old City. The acquisitions today in a sense have gone a long way into preventing that. The new buildings directly link the Mount of Olives neighborhood with Jewish owned building in the Shiloach. This creates for the first time a thin, but nearly contiguous strip of Jewish owned buildings in the Silwan neighborhood.
True, this is still not formidable enough to hold off the international community, but the end of “Palestine” as a real possibility is now in sight. Remember, without the Old City of Jerusalem there is no “Palestine.”
The first time I stepped foot in the Shiloach neighborhood was seven years ago. There were maybe 9 or 10 families. The Yemenite Synagogue had not yet been acquired from the squatters that had lived within it. As of today, the Jewish families now living in the Shiloach number 36 and there is a beautiful three domed Yemenite Synagogue in the middle of being fully restored standing at the community’s center.
The lesson of today’s successful move, is that every house and hill matters and even though the demographics may be daunting in some of these areas, persistence and faith in the Almighty pays off at the end.