Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Virtual Tour of the Shepherd Hotel Area

The other day a private developer destroyed a large Jerusalem building which has been empty for decades, so as to construct an apartment building on its site. The building, originally built by the infamous Haj Amin al-Husseini in the 1930s, was confiscated during WWII by the British, while Husseini was hobnobbing with his Nazi friends in Berlin, then by the Jordanians when they conquered the area in 1948, then by the Israelis when they conquered it in 1967. It was sold to Irwin Moskowitz in 1985, but only recently did he manage to complete the legal process that would enable him to develop it. Along the way it became known as the Shepherd Hotel.

The move was condemned world-wide, by Hillary Clinton, Catherine Ashton, Ban Ki-Moon, and many others, and of course by the Palestinian leadership. The condemnations all claimed the new apartments will be in East Jerusalem, and thus part of Palestine, and therefore no Jews may be allowed to live there and if they are this will prevent the division of the city and peace.

Set aside the legal aspects of the matter, not because they aren't interesting, but because they've been set aside by all the negotiating parties for at least the past decade. When on December 24th 2000 President Clinton slowly dictated his terms for peace to a group of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, he determined that Jerusalem would be divided along the lines of ethnic division, irrespective of which part of the town had been in which country prior to its unification under Israel in 1967; his proposed lines would have had some Jordanian areas incorporated to Israel, and some Israeli ones incorporated to Palestine. Ever since then the principle of division along the ethnic lines has been the single option discussed in all relevant forums, effectively overriding earlier discussions of history, legality, morality or what have you.

I have written repeatedly about how this practical solution is not practical, and indeed should anyone ever try to impose it, the imposition will inevitably lead to violence bloodshed and eventually back to war (here, for example, and here). I have demonstrated this on various parts of town. (Here, here and here, for example),  Today I suggest we have a close look at the situation on the ground at the Shepherd Hotel compound.

First, the general area. Here's a Google Earth screenshot of the area to the north of the Old City in which the compound lies. (You can see part of the Old City at the bottom of the picture). Note that pre-1967 there was an island of Israeli territory to the east of the line of division; this is Mount Scopus, and before the division the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital had been there; after the division the Israelis had to shut them both down, even though they were still in Israeli territory, because the Jordanians wouldn't allow access to the mountain.

After unification in 1967, the Israelis built Jewish neighborhoods bridging the gap and connecting Mt. Scopus to Jewish Jerusalem. In the Geneva Initiative application of Clinton's principles, the change on the ground will look like this:
This is an interesting way of drawing the line, as it leave out some interesting information and possible complications.
The red triangle is where the Israeli national police headquarters and Ministry of Housing sit, raising the question why it was defined by the Geneva Initiative folks as Palestinian. The yellow blob is the British Counsulate, and has been an official British compound since the 1930s, so it's not obviously either Jewish nor Palestinian, either. The green blob I'll talk about in a moment: it's one of those sections of Jerusalem which defy ethnic cataloging. The Shepherd Hotel compound is the pink blob between the green and the yellow, which means that it isn't deep into a Palestinian neighborhood, but rather leaning on the fence of a Jewish one.

Here, lets see it all closer up.
 I've added three colored dots. At the bottom left there's a blue dot. That's the site of the memorial to the 78 Jews murdered by Palestinians on April 13th 1948. They were part of a convoy on its way up to the hospital and included the director of the hospital and many of his staff. The killing went on for more than six hours, though late in the afternoon when the British decided to put an end to the incident they did so in minutes. The consulate compound was manned by British troops at the time.
The black memorial is on the right; the consulate is the arched building in the upper center.

The yellow dot is the spot across from the entrance to the Shepherd complex where I stood earlier this afternoon and took four snapshots, one in each direction. West, into the compound:
North. The blue roofed compound is the sport center of the Hebrew University, and the 1967 line goes through its middle.
East. The HU campus is above, the buildings below are part of the Arab neighborhood of Wadi Jose, and the road between them is the highway to Maale Edumim.
 Finally, south. The Mount of Olives is above, Wadi Jose below it.

To the north of the Shepherd Hotel compound you'll see that I've added a light blue dot, at the intersection between the government compound and the Shepherd compound. Again, I stood on one spot, and pointed my camera left, then right. First, here's the Ministry of Housing, to my right.

To the left, here's the Shepherd compound, with all the trees. Less than a stone's throw from the ministry, and not figuratively. A real stone's throw.
 Finally, straight ahead, here's the compound I previously marked in bright green:
Near the top of the building you can see the logo of Briyut Klalit - twice. Once in Hebrew (right) and once in Arabic (left). Briyut Klalit is the name of the largest health insurance organization in Israel. The building, and the compound around it, is an Israeli institution, but since this particular branch serves the Arab population of Wadi Jose, most of its staff are Arab, and the language spoken in its hallways is mostly Arabic. So if you're dividing the city along ethnic lines, what is it? Do you go by the identity of the organization or the identity of the clients? If you decide it's Palestinian, the Israelis will of course shut down the building and its services, leaving the locals with no health service. If it's Israeli, then you're going to have to draw an international border between the health center and its clients, who will live in a different country and won't be eligible for its services. (And why should they be? Health services are paid by from the Israeli budget, from taxes collected from Israeli citizens. Not citizens of Palestine).

If the health center stays in Israel, the fence between it and the Shepherd Hotel compound will then be an international border. If there are Israelis living in the Shepherd area by the time the border gets drawn, the other fence of the compound will be the border. It's hard to see how either scenario is an existential threat to peace making, since the two fences are about 150 yards apart.

On the other hand, it's easy to see why the whole concept of drawing an international border along fences of properties might perhaps not be such a good idea. In the real world, I mean. From time to time I take foreign visitors for walks along the line the peace-makers propose, and am often asked why they don't see the division can't possibly work. I have no answer to this. Then my visitors ask me what the solution will be: if dividing the city will be a calamity, how do we reach peace? So far as I know, no-one has an honest answer to that.

The next chapter in this series is here, and tells about Har Homa.


Silke said...

reading this made me wonder why the same internationals who are all for ethnic dividing get so upset whenever Israelis want to distance themselves a bit from their Arab countrymen.

on the one hand sorting it along ethnic lines is all the rage on the other hand it is by the devil and what about mixed ones? Surely there must be some also, are they to be split in the middle also and if so from head to toe or at the waist?

AKUS said...

Clearly those meddling in this issue need once and for all to actually visit the scene.

And you should be on the Israeli negotiating team, Yakov. This and your previous videos should be required viewing for the "peacemakers".

Bryan said...

These posts really are invaluable, Yaacov. Thank you for doing them. Aside from being good reading, it's amazing to show them to people and look at their confused faces.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Bryan said. I truly appreciate the time you point into preparing these posts.


Saul Lieberman said...

Well, Goldblog avers: "Peace will not come without the birth of a Palestinian state on the West Bank which has its capital in East Jerusalem." Once you believe in that absolute truth, the practical aspects must be irrelevant.

(Goldblog's post is here: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/the-future-of-jerusalem/69295/)

NormanF said...

That's never going to happen.

Jerusalem's residents would turn down any partition plan in a referendum. And as more Jews live on the eastern side of the city, it becomes impossible to really divide it.

That has been the intention of all Israeli governments since 1967. Two sovereignties in Jerusalem are a non-starter. There is no logical reason on earth why the Palestinian Arabs cannot have Ramallah or even Gaza City as their capital.

It therefore stands to reason that they want ALL of Jerusalem ONLY because the Jews have it now.

Avi from Jerusalem said...

Yaacov, beautifully done, as per normal.

One slight quibble that I have is that there is no scale on the Google earth maps. IMHO people from the outside have no idea of the geographical scale we are talking about. I know that you emphasied this in the post, but nevertheless, outsiders think that we are are talking about pieces of land the size of Southern Sudan, or the Louisiana Purchase or the areas annexed by Poland from Germany after WWII.

Every time I travel round the country in general and Jerusalem in particular with people visiting for the first time, they generally comment on how small it all is.

Silke said...

Goldblog was really going strong when the J-Street Soros-Hongkong-Racing-Connection blew up. Then he demanded a thorough colonoscopy for them. Now he is sucking up to Sullivan.

IMHO he imagines Israel as a Disney-Land-like-Shangri-La

joseph said...

Dr. Lozowick,

OT, Juan Cole had an article on blasphemy laws today. He cited Wikipedia to say that Israeli blasphemy laws are covered by articles 170 and 173 of the Penal Code. Do you know what articles 170 and 173 of the Penal Code are. I couldn't find them online.


bataween said...

Hi Yaacov
Kol hakavod demonstrating the idiocy - not to say hypocrisy - of wishing to divide Jerusalem along 'ethnic' lines. No leftist is exercised by the fact that Baghdad was once 40 percent Jewish but their property was seized.
I've added a link to your post here

Anonymous said...

A Hebrew version is here

Not sure if it's the latest
hope that link work's...

Anonymous said...

Of course the link doesn't work
And enter
into the search box

Juniper in the Desert said...

1948: a socialist British government, responsible for allowing the killing of Jews! How foul!

Yaacov said...


I followed the links T gave. Para. 170 is not a blasphemy law, but rather a law that says you can go to jail for up to three years for attacking a place of worship or destroying a holy item so as to offend believers. So if anyone ever finds the people who last year desecrated Koran's in a West bank mosque, they may be sent to jail under this law.

Par. 173 says you can be jailed for up to one year for intentionally offending "in a serious manner" in the public sphere.

The libertarian in me doesn't like paragraph 173, but remember that the word of the law is only the first step towards persecution. You have to have the police investigating, and the court convicting, and I don't remember that either of them ever have.

Adam Levick said...

Excellent post, Yaacov, and extremely informative, thanks!

RK said...

That's very interesting -- I never realized that the complex with the Ministry of Housing was colored green on the Geneva Initiative's maps. You're right: it makes no sense. Since they have a new blog, maybe I'll go ask them.

Bouncing back to the macro level, on dividing Jerusalem, I have two questions: First, it would obviously be impossible to divide Jerusalem (at least, without barbed wire and checkpoints) if East Jerusalem Hamas cells could launch attacks across the border without fear of retribution. (As in the Hebrew University bombing in the summer of 2002, for example.) But by the same token, it would be impossible to end the occupation if people could launch missiles from the Samarian hills at the central plain. The conditions that would make ending the occupation possible are the same conditions that would make dividing Jerusalem feasible, namely, Israeli confidence in the ability and willingness of Palestinians to abide by a final settlement without violence. I can understand why the inhabitants of Tapuach, who are confident that peace will the Palestinians will never, ever happen, wouldn't care about building in East Jerusalem. But if, as you've sometimes suggested, you think building more settlements in the West Bank is counterproductive because of the (remote, future) possibility of a peace agreement, why doesn't the same argument apply to East Jerusalem?

Secondly, let's assume that there's a cold peace, as with Egypt. An ugly wall runs through the breathtaking Tayelet Armon Hanatziv, and Mamila mall, with its elegant signs in Arabic calligraphy, is of course shut down, among other things. It would be tragic. But wouldn't it be worth it at twice the cost? And wouldn't it pale in comparison to the price paid by the settlers who would lose the neighborhoods in which they were born and grew up, and the East Jerusalem Palestinians who would lose their livelihoods on the other side of the wall?

Anyway, I second (fourth?) all the commenters who admire the time and thought you put into these posts. Good stuff.

Silke said...

A German journalist has been visiting a refugee camp and talked to Khouloud who graduated from uni in Britain. Elder of Ziyon has a rough translation.

A cold dose of reality: How PalArabs in camps think

Y. Ben-David said...

Why the heck isn't the political "Right" carrying out an adverstising campaign to save Jerusalem by pointing out all these facts? They could take out full-page ads in the Friday newspapers with maps and photos like Yaacov has done and with articles pointing out that having the Jews volunatarily give up their holiest places would be a shot in the arm to the most radical Muslim groups who would do their utmost to take control of the Arab areas and the holy places? What about mobilizing the Christians of the world pointing out that their holy places in Jerusalem are in danger for the same reasons?

Y. Ben-David said...

Polls show many Arabs in Jerusalem oppose dividing the city:


Avigdor said...

Y. Ben David, there's no such thing as the "political right". I mean, yes, people get elected to the Knesset on the Likud ticket, but there isn't anything in the way of organization, think tanks, advocacy groups, etc., the way you have with the left.

There is no coherent agenda, no long term planning, nothing, not for the territories, not for Jerusalem, not for the country. There are slogans, general concepts, but nothing concrete. You would think these things should exist, but they just don't.

There are some small groups, like Im Tirzu, which is brand new, and some settlement groups, small ones that care only about one neighborhood of Jerusalem, like Sheikh Jarrah, or that try to find families willing to settle in Hevron, but none of them talk to each other. I mean, maybe they know each other, but they don't coordinate strategy at all, not even in a general way. They usually rely on someone in government that they know and trust, like Danny Danon, but I don't see him with a strategy either. It's a real mess, conceptually, organizationally, etc.

Avigdor said...

That article is a great find, Silke. Is Cicero a magazine of any importance?

Silke said...

as best I know it is aspiring to become something like the UK's Prospect (Wikipedia says they aim at The Atlantic and New Yorker - their boss seems to be Swiss blick which is a tabloid and from what I see from it into telling off muslim shenanigans
- Wiki says they sell 80000 copies - their website looks glossy but maneuvering around it makes it look like an unfinished project. They offer on their website something called "Weltbühne" a name that is linked for me to Kurt Tucholsky and Carl von Ossietzky both as best I know considered to be left. (if you ever come a across Kurt Tucholsky's Schloss Gripsholm indulge!)

Anyway this friendly piece doesn't guarantee a general friendliness of the magazine. Our outlets try hard to serve everyone and became direction-wise indistinguible years ago, except those on the pretty far right or the pretty far left. That's why I've taken to follow individual authors.

I bought one Cicero when they started and found them too wannabe highbrowish -

Here is the link to the Way's Israelblog http://www.cicero.de/israelblog.php.
Google translate does a reasonable job and I think he'd be tickled if he got a comment in English. Sadly he is a religion-allergic, how nice it would be, if he got his mind opened a bit by somebody like you ;-) here is his e-mail address ingoway(at)gmx(.)de from his blog http://ingoway.wordpress.com/

As to distribution: I guess Cicero came on the stand by the end of December and I learned about the piece from my mailing list yesterday - but it is at least MSM for once

Anonymous said...

A reader at Daniel Pipes' blog has more information about the Jewish history of the Sheikh Jarrah Quarter. According to him Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews bought the area (around the Tomb of Shimon haTsadiq) in 1891 from local Arabs. http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/159368

Best regards, André

Silke said...

I wrote a lengthy answer to you and it looked like the system took it but now it's gone.

so here I try again: the link to the author's Israelblog
here's his e-mail address ingoway(at)gmx(.)de
from his blog http://ingoway.wordpress.com/
which I gave you because I'd love you to set the author's knee-jerk allergy to the religious right.
(Google translate does a pretty good job on his stuff and I guess he'd be tickled to get an American/Moldavian comment - we Germans are eager to have foreign "connections")

As to Cicero Wikipedia says it sells 80.000 and aspires to becoming a German The Atlantic or New Yorker, its website looks glossy but feels like an unfinished project. Its publisher is swiss blick.de which is into protesting muslim shenanigans but Cicero itself sports a section called Weltbühne which was an outlet made famous by Kurt Tucholsky and Carl von Ossietzky. Both considered to have been left-leaning (if you see Tucholsky's Schloss Gripsholm in a bookshop - indulge!)

most telling maybe is that I learned of the article only via mailing list yesterday. I think I bought one of their first issues and found them too wannabe-highbrowish for my taste.

But now I saw they have stuff by Sylke Tempel also and her I remember from radio as a sober-headed friend of Israel.

Yaacov said...


The answer to the 1st question is that one can draw a border, fortify it, and then figure out how to punish the people who fire over it. See: Gaza. It's not nice, not clean, not easy, and not certain to be sustainable, but it might, and it's better than occupying the Palestinians. This can't be done in the middle of a city, where the distance between both sides is measured in inches and feet. It would destroy the city, cause tremendous damage, aggravation and frustration, and these - ask any newspaper editor - are the things that make people do bad things. As soon as the division happened, the next wave of bloody violence would either begin or begin germinating.

And that's the answer to the second question, too.

Bryan said...

Also relevant: the Geneva Initiative awarded the northeast corner of what used to be Israeli-controled Mount Scopus to Palestine. Can anyone figure out why? From the Google Maps it looks like uninhabited hills. Are there people living there?

And if not, doesn't it just seem like the Geneva Initiative's idea of fair distribution is giving everything possible over to the Palestinians and leaving the Israelis only with that which is undeniably and incontestably Israeli? In other words, "that which is ours is ours, and that which is yours is yours, and that which is neither ours or yours is, okay, also yours."

Yaacov said...


That's the village of Issawiya. Palestinians who built their homes on Israeli land since 1967. I suppose you might call them illegal settlers, but that wouldn't do, would it. Anyway, the Geneva folks give them the territory even tho it's on the Israeli side of the Green Line. If this puzzles you, go look at what they do in Beit Safafa: the Israeli citizens there who were always on the Israeli side of the Green Line are put into Palestine, without being asked, because they're Arab.

Bryan said...


Thank you for the explanation. I suppose the rationale behind assigning Arab Israelis to Palestine is because nobody would bother asking any Jewish community whether they wanted to be part of Israel or Palestine, because all of them would unanimously choose Israel, so in the interest of fairness, nobody will be asked.