On August 1, Israeli Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, and Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Ze’ev Elkin, celebrated the opening of the “Yemenite Jewish Heritage Center” in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. Regev provocatively stated during the ceremony, was unequivocal in denying the Palestinian historical ties and rights to Jerusalem: “Look around. We are surrounded by Jewish heritage. The archaeologists won’t find a single Palestinian coin here! We have come home.”

Attendees at the opening ceremony included Ateret Cohanim Chairman Matti Dan, Daniel Moskowitz (son of East Jerusalem settlement benefactor Irving Moskowitz), MK Nurit Koren (Likud),  Moshe Leon (Jerusalem mayoral candidate) and former Arkansas governor and US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The ceremony was a very clear and public testament to the deep ties between Ateret Cohanim and the government.

The Center, located in a building which served until the early 1900s as a Yemenite synagogue serving a small Yemenite community living in Silwan, opened following a long legal battle in the Israeli High Court of Justice between Palestinian residents of the building and Ateret Cohanim organization. In 2015, the High Court ruled in favor of the settlers and ordered the eviction of the Abu Naab family (however, legal efforts to challenge the government’s decision to hand over the land continue; for details, see here).

The opening of the Jewish Heritage Center is one piece of a much larger puzzle that aims to turn this entire section of Silwan into a Jewish neighborhood. For previous reporting detailing the settlers’ plans in that area and the eviction of the Abu Naab family, see here