Israel opened up a new cultural center in Jerusalem last week:
Two cabinet ministers, two candidates for Jerusalem mayor, the Sephardi chief rabbi of the city and a right-wing US former governor on Wednesday celebrated at a cornerstone ceremony for a heritage center in a former Yemenite synagogue, in overwhelmingly Palestinian Silwan, near the Temple Mount.
Also on hand was a representative of the Moskowitz family, which supports Jewish settlement in Palestinian neighborhoods of the capital.
The building — once the synagogue of Kfar Hashiloah, a village built for poor Yemenite immigrants in the early 1880s and evacuated during Arab riots in the early 20th century — was acquired in 2015 by the right-wing Ateret Cohanim organization, which settles Jews in East Jerusalem.
We have shown in the past that the neighborhood, called Kfar HaShiloah before the Arabs named it Silwan, was exclusively Jewish at the beginning. Here’s a photo I helped uncover back in 2010 of the neighborhood in 1891:
But when Palestinians are reporting on the story of this new “settlement,” they have a completely different history.
PA spokesman Yousuf Al-Mahmoud said that the inauguration of the center “is one of the attempts of this extremist government to ignite the fires of religious war alien to us and our country and our culture, and is a blatant challenge to the Arab and Islamic nations, the international community and the resolutions of international legitimacy.”
He went on to say “the fabrication of establishing this settler’s center under the name ‘Center for the Heritage of Yemenite Jews’ is meant to disguise the racism of Israeli officials that has crossed every limit.” The Yemenite Jews, he claims, “escaped the oppression of those Westerners who embraced Judaism (evoking the Khazar myth) and settled in Silwan, where the (local Arab) people helped them and provided them with a safe place among them for years. Today racism is raging and it turns that event, which is overflowing with humanity and shows moral values, and it (the racism) brings upon the original inhabitants of the country wickedness and brutality that is manifest in settling, and stealing and robbing the property of the (Palestinian) civilians and their holy places.”
As you can see from the photo, there were no Arabs in that neighborhood. The Yemenite Jews weren’t driven out of Jerusalem, they just couldn’t afford housing inside the Old City, and they moved to caves. The Jews of Jerusalem raised money to build these buildings for them.
And later on, the Yemenites were forced out of their homes – they were attacked by Arabs in the 1921 riots and the 1929 massacres, and the British forced them to leave in order to save their lives. The idea that al-Mahmous claims that the Yemenites were welcomed by their Arab neighbors is exactly opposite of the truth – the Arabs who moved in afterwards attacked them, ethnically cleansed them and stole their houses.
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