Nir Barkat – Previous Mayor of Jerusalem Returns to Shiloach
Nir Barkat – the previous mayor of Jerusalem and a high ranking Likudnik paid a visit to the old Yemenite Village of Shiloach with Ateret Cohanim and the public council for the renewal of Kfar HaTeimanim (Gadi Bashari).
As mayor, Nir Barkat played a major role in preserving Jewish life in the area. When attempts were made by the – then legal advisor of the Jerusalem Municipality, to seal up the house dedicated to Jonathan Pollard – Beit Yonatan, Barkat stood firm at the time and refused to go along with attempts to seal the building. He was not going to budge or capitulate to blatant hypocrisy.
Since that period, the Jewish presence has increased two fold with 22 Jewish families and close to 100 children now living in the old Yemenite Village of Shiloach. The original Beit Knesset complex (initially called Ohel Shlomo) is also back in Jewish hands, thanks to the efforts of wonderful overseas investors and donors and the endeavours of both the Sanctified Trust (Hekdesh) and Ateret Cohanim.
Barkat, was flanked by a number of Yemenites from the public committee of the renewal of the Yemenite Village, which is headed by Gadi Bashari.
The former mayor and rising star in the Likud spoke of his association with the area and Beit Yonatan and also thanked the anonymous donor from Australia who recently donated one million dollars to the Beit Knesset and Cultural centre restoration project.
Barkat was warmly thanked by both Mati Dan (Ateret Cohanim) and by Shira Tanami – who with her husband Boaz Tanami were the first family to move into the area. Beit HaDvash where the Tanamis live was the first redeemed home thanks to the efforts of Canadian investor.
Barkat was shown the important letter from the British High Commissioner (August 1938) recognizing the Jewish refugees who in the pogroms of 1937-38, were forcibly evicted by the British from their homes in the Shiloach, and whom the British themselves promised could return. This promise was never kept by the British.
In light of the recent letter from the British House of Commons condemning the possible eviction of Arabs from the Shiloach (illegal Arab squatters), it seems the time is right to remind the British of their role and their promise regarding the true Jewish Yemenite land owners.
After refreshments in the new courtyard of the original Beit Knesset and after visiting a few homes in the area – Beit Ovadia, Beit Rachel, Beit Yonatan, and the “country club” play area of Beit Frumkin, the group then carried on touring in the nearby City of David.