We met Mira and Yossi Eliav quite by accident. While touring the ancient Cardo (a rehabilitated ancient Roman era shopping mall) in 1984, we spotted a neighbor of our’s in their shop. We walked in, spoke and quickly befriended the couple. Mira was from Minnesota and Yossi from Iran. They met in Israel, married and decided after Jerusalem’s liberation in 1967 to settle in what was the Jewish Quarter of the Old City which was abandoned and virtually destroyed in 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence.
From King David’s time until Roman times, Jews lived in the Old City of Jerusalem. When the Romans sacked and burnt the Temple in 70 CE, the city lay in ruin. Still, the Jews remained. After the Bar Kochba revolt in 133 CE, Emperor Hadrian rebuilt the city, banished the Jews and Jewish Christians and renamed the city Aelia Capitolina. The City became “Judenrein” (a Nazi term meaning “Jews excluded”) until the 7th century.
Hadrian, infuriated by the Jewish revolt, also renamed the entire country of Israel then known as Judea to Syria Palestina in an attempt to rid the land of any allusion to its Jewish origins. The Romans created the name (a reference to Israel’s ancient biblical enemy known as the Philistines) just to be vindictive to the Jews.
Mira and Yossi dug out their store from the 1948 rubble and made it into a showcase for Judaica, jewelry and dolls. They invested their lives into making the Jewish Quarter of the Old City into a viable home for themselves, their four children and others. Today, the Jewish Quarter is a vibrant, resurrected community.
We’ve been to their home, to the places they shop, the restaurants they favor and the synagogue that they pray in. We’ve seen their new residence, recently resurrected from a hole in a wall (literally) and excavated into an amazingly modern and comfortable home.
In the Old City of Jerusalem, people of all faiths regularly interact. The Christian, Muslim, Armenian and Jewish Quarters are compressed into one square kilometer. Since 1967, peace has dominated this area.
Mira, Yossi, their children, the residents and business owners in the Jewish Quarter are now international criminals. They are occupying land that, though destroyed and abandoned prior to 1967, is now considered by the UN as “Palestinian.” In fact, the art, judaica and jewelry that we’ve bought over the years could be considered contraband. Such could be the effect of the US’ abstention and facilitation of UN resolution 2334.
From 1948 until 1967, the Old and Ancient City of Jerusalem under Jordanian rule was again Judenrein. The United States might just have become complicit in making it so again, just as are now the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula, lands Israel returned to Hamas and Egypt respectively, in hope of peace.
Then Ambassador and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in a 1981 article referred to the Carter administration’s policy towards Israel and another shameful episode in US-Israel relations and a similar UN vote as “Joining the Jackals.” (https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/joining-the-jackalsrdquo/). It looks like this time, the US might have served as the leader of the pack.
I regret the US’ complicity in this regrettable and shameful chapter. I regret that we no longer have true statesmen the likes of Daniel Patrick Moynihan of blessed memory.
Most of all, I worry about my friends Mira, Yossi and the other residents of the beautiful Jewish Quarter and of the entire Old City of Jerusalem.
Psalm 122:6. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.”
Pray for Peace in the New Year and always,
P.S. This UN resolution also compromises and complicates an initiative I have been undertaking with Al-Kuds University’s dental school in East Jerusalem. Space doesn’t permit me to elaborate but I’ll be happy to discuss it further if you’re interested.