The recent construction in Sheikh Jarrah, the hot-button, predominantly Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, should perhaps have been less attention-grabbing than most Jewish building on the other side of the Green Line, if only because the land was bought by an American named Irving Moskovitz all the way back in 1985, and the Israeli government granted permission for the building there to be demolished all the way back in March (this was the infamous announcement that came right after Vice President Biden arrived). Duly, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office stamped the move with calm understatement rather than with brash, “Jerusalem is not a settlement” rhetoric: “Actions undertaken yesterday at the Shepherd Hotel were conducted by private individuals in accordance with Israeli law,” a brief statement read. “The Israeli government was not involved.”
A prime reason this latest project is garnering substantial attention, including a condemnation from Secretary of State Clinton, who is traveling in the region, is because of what the Shepherd Hotel is: Originally a residence built for Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who notoriously gave comfort to the Nazis during World War Two. Naturally, pro-settlement groups justifiably saw poetic justice in its demolition. At the same time, the Husseinis, which remain a prominent Palestinian family, were able to galvanize outrage.
Meanwhile, Laura Rozen reports that Moskovitz was a huge donor to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican from Miami Beach (and Moskovitz’s congresswoman). The new Republican majority has Ros-Lehtinen chairing the Foreign Affairs Committee; Moskovitz and his wife gave her somewhere between nearly $10,000 and nearly $15,000 during the most recent election cycle. In his recent East Jerusalem travelogue, Todd Gitlin wrote, “By spreading Jewish settlements throughout an area that Palestinians insist must become the capital of a Palestinian state, Moskowitz is financing the facts on the ground that stand in the way of a deal.”
Israeli Demolition Begins in East Jerusalem Project [NYT]
Shepherd Hotel Developer Top Donor to Foreign Affairs Chair Ros-Lehtinen [Laura Rozen]
Related: Facts on the Ground [Tablet Magazine]