Contiguity Leads To Sovereignty

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In the winding maze of streets that make up much of Jerusalem’s Old City, much of the emphasis on Jewish land reclamation initiatives has been the establishment of urban homesteads.

Isolated Jewish compounds, secured in a sea of hostile arabs has never been seen as the aim of Ateret Cohanim. Rather, it was a strategy born out of necessity just over 40 years ago, in order to get the ball rolling as a first step towards reimplementing Jewish sovereignty in historically Jewish neighborhoods in the Old City and beyond.

While urban homesteading may have a sort of adrenaline rush to it, real sovereignty is about creating contiguity and ultimately neighborhood building.

Over the last few years what was once scattered compounds across the Old Jewish Quarter and Northern Jewish Quarter (what the British named the Muslim Quarter) Jewish neighborhoods have begun to reform. Perhaps the greatest example of this is Al-Khaladia street.

Once called Hebron street, it boasted over 1,000 Jews and was the heart of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. British policy and Arab pogroms pushed the Jewish community into what is today called the Jewish Quarter, emptying out traditional Jewish areas, until today.

The few buildings that were bought back or returned over 40 years ago on Al-Khaladia street formed the basis for today’s growing neighborhood. For the first time in nearly a century there is a flourishing and growing Jewish neighborhood on Al-Khaladia.

This contiguity flipped the isolated compounds on Al-Khaladia into an actual neighborhood. Interestingly, when it became apparent that the street had been flipped over, the city began renovating the walkway – almost connecting it into the present Jewish quarter.

Should the city wait for Jews to move into a neighborhood to fix it up? Of course not, but the impression was clear, contiguity equals sovereignty and with it comes increased security, sustainability, and community resiliency. The key to cementing Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem’s Old City is to repeat what occurred on Al-Khaladia street in other areas as well.

David Mark
Article by David Mark

David heads up community development and outreach for Ateret Cohanim. Besides guiding countless groups throughout the Old City and other areas of the Holy Basin, he works side by side with the team on new development projects and educational outreach initiatives. Besides his work with Ateret Cohanim, he is intimately involved with Land Reclamation activities in Judea and Samaria.


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