Thursday, April 12, 2007

Homes in the Yemenite Village

Ateret Cohanim has managed to acquire two properties in the old Yemenite Village. At this point, it's hardly a "village," but more of an urban outpost.

Building Number 1

The first building we visit is actually the home of our guide. The ground floor is already built, and it's where he and his family make their home. Construction has begun on more floors, but progresses slowly. While there is widespread grassroots support from half the country for rebuilding the Yemenite Village and other similar places, there is also widespread grassroots opposition from the other half of the country which opposes it and wishes to simply withdraw from these areas, believing that such a withdrawal would result in a calmer situation.

Yours truly in the beginnings of the new structure.

The day the Jews moved in, word spread quickly throughout the neighborhood and angry crowds gathered around. Rocks, bottles, and anything else the neighbors could get their hands on came hurtling down from the adjacent rooftops by the hundreds.

Balconies above the new building from which the stones came hurtling down.

One policeman was injured. After a time, the situaton calmed down, the neighbors acclimated, although still unhappy, to the idea of living next to Jews. Today, Jews can shop in local stores, and know some of their neighbors on a first-name basis. The conflict is always there, under the surface, ready to flare up again, but today things are calm. Whereas the barrage of rocks ended in a day, the legal barrage was only beginning. While contributions come in to help construct these tiny buildings, opposing groups, also organized and financed by Jews, flood the courts with lawsuits. Every imaginable justification is used for lawsuits; the building will block someone's view, the piping is unsanitary, the lot was used as a basketball court by the local kids. Their goal is not necessarily to win but to get court injunctions to prevent building and exhaust the finances and energies of Jews who want to live in East Jerusalem. Buildings which would normally take months now take years. But the Yemenite Villagers are patient. It should be noted here that all of this land was originally owned by the Yemenites, who turned over their deeds to Ateret Cohanim. These properties have therefore been paid for twice, first by the Yemenites, and later by Ateret Cohanim.

The "roof" (really, the future second floor) of the new building offers some unusual views.
Looking towards the road to West Jerusalem and the Zion Hotel.

The Mount Zion Hotel
The rocky outcropping at the bottom right is actually the walls to the ancient City of David. The houses above are in the City of David itself. On the right is the black dome of the Al Aksa Mosque, built over the ruins of the Jewish Temple Mount.

"Absentee tenant" kids: Uh... who are all these people?

Wife and baby downstairs in the first completed room of the structure.

Our guide, who lives in the downstairs room with his wife and child. Note the riot-proof doors and the rock-proof cages around the lights.

Next, let's see what's in building number two...

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