Daily Israel Report

Benny Elon: Sheikh Jarrah is Critical

Ex-Tourism Minister says there are Israeli media and left-wing elements that care neither about the Iranian threat nor Israel’s hold on Jerusalem.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/25/2010, 5:39 PM / Last Update: 3/25/2010, 8:12 PM

Former Tourism Minister Benny Elon says there are elements in the Israeli media and left-wing that are so “evil” that they care neither about the Iranian threat nor Israel’s hold on Jerusalem.

The point of reference for Elon’s remarks, which he shared with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew newsmagazine on Thursday, was the “scoop” reported on Ynet regarding a new Jewish housing plan for the Shepherd Hotel compound in Jerusalem’s Shimon HaTzaddik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood. The release of the news meshed perfectly with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s meeting in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama, placing the former in a most awkward situation and turning up American pressure on Israel.

'Evil' in the media
“There is evil in the media,” Elon said, “helped about by groups such as Peace Now and Ir Amim. These are people who have lost their Jewish connections to Jerusalem – something that unites 90% of the nation.”

Elon, a four-term Knesset Member who also served as Tourism Minister for almost three years until 2004, said he judges Netanyahu favorably: “I believe that he is giving in on certain matters – and we are forced to grit our teeth – against his own ideology, all because of the overriding existential threat from Iran. What he is doing is very upsetting to us, but there are those who don’t care that Netanyahu is concerned with our security, nor do they care about Jerusalem.”

“However, they will not succeed. The government is standing strong so far, and we have righteous people such as Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz who had a vision about Jerusalem, but who realized that visions have to backed up with actions, and they purchased [the Shepherd Hotel] ... long ago.”

The Moskowitz' plan is to turn the building into 20 apartments for Jews.

Shimon HaTzaddik Neighborhood is Critical for Israel
“This area is critical for Israeli interests,” Elon said. “It is very close to a government complex on one side, and not far from the Regency Hotel [formerly the Hyatt]. The new construction will form a Jewish contiguity very close to the city’s Highway 1, which otherwise would divide the city into Jewish and Arab sections. Shimon HaTzaddik (Sheikh Jarrah) is closer to the center of town than Ramot or Har Homa.”

Rabbi Elon, who headed Yeshivat Beit Orot on Mt. Scopus for several years, said that education and learning the facts is critical: “Many nationalist Jews don’t even realize that there are now far more Jews than Arabs in the Jerusalem areas liberated by Israel in the Six Day War. There are about 200,000 Jews in places such as Ramot, Ramat Shlomo, Gilo and the like – much more than there are Arabs in the villages around these places.”