The Ateret Cohanim association has submitted a plan for the establishment of a new neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, Haaretz reported on Tuesday. The neighborhood, Kidmat Zion, will be established on land that was purchased by hundreds of Haredi Jewish families who joined together at the beginning of the previous century.
The lands of the Kidmat Zion neighborhood were purchased on September 16, 1925, by the Jewish residents that included relatives of the famous Dayan Rabbi Zvi Pesach Frank. After the Jordanian Legion occupied the area in 1948, it was taken over by the Crown’s Custodian of Enemy Assets, and the Ras al-Amud neighborhood was built there. In 1967, after the liberation of eastern Jerusalem, Israel’s Interior Ministry located some of the original Jewish owners and registered the land in their names.
In 2004, several Jewish families settled on the land of Kidmat Zion, and last week it was absorbed into the Jerusalem municipality’s planning system. The development plan includes the construction of 384 housing units, as well as public institutions, and the development of public areas.
Ateret Cohanim, which supported the 2004 settlement in Kidmat Zion, has been pushing for close to two decades to redeem the area in Jewish hands and registered a full-fledged development plan as early as 2013. They received the support of former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, but the Netanyahu government time and again discouraged development in the area for fear of US pressure.
Ninety-seven years ago next week, on Lag B’Omer 5686 (May 22, 1926), the new Jewish owners of Kidmat Zion entered their land for the first time, and celebrated with singing and dancing, only to be attacked shortly thereafter by Arab rioters and forced to abandon the place. According to eyewitness Eliezer Smali in his book “Jerusalem of Gold,” the Arab mob “surrounded us and shouted: Get out of here, and threatened us with sticks and set their dogs on us and rained stones on us. We left the baskets and the food and began to retreat slowly in sorrow and shame.”
Despite the harassment, the purchasing of the land continued, and dozens of acres were registered in the name of the association members. But the pogroms of 1929 that also caused the Yemenite residents Kfar HaShiloach to flee their homes, brought the procurement of Kidmat Zion to an early conclusion, and the owners were not able to access their land until after the Six Day War.