Shepherd Hotel demolition 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Shepherd Hotel, a boxy building with a sweeping view of Hebrew University
and the Mount of Olives ridge, has a complicated history involving many
countries and incarnations.
Grand mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin
al-Husseini, who had strong ties with Hitler and the Nazis, started construction
on the building in the mid- 1930s, though he never lived in it. When he was
deported from Jerusalem in 1937 by the British, he rented the partiallyfinished
building to George Antonius, who finished the construction and rented it for 10
In 1948, the house became a Jordanian army outpost until Israel
took control of the property in 1967 under the Absentee Property
From 1967 to 1982, it was owned by two separate Arab Christian
families, the Faruwaji and the Marum families, who were considered protected
tenants and ran the property as a pilgrims’ hotel.
After the Marum family
went bankrupt in the early ’80s, the land was sold by the state custodian to
Irving Moskowitz, a California businessman who provides the financial backing
for other Jewish buildings in Arab neighborhoods in
Neighborhood activists in Sheikh Jarrah claim that the deal
that transferred the ownership to Moskowitz was a shady business transaction
done with a Swiss tourism business called C&M Properties Partnership acting
as a front for Ateret Cohanim.
“If there was some problem with the
ownership, it would have been clarified in court well before the actual
construction permit, but we’re already so far past that,” said Ateret Cohanim
spokesman Daniel Luria.
Starting in 1987, the Border Police used the
hotel as an east Jerusalem headquarters for 15 years, until a new headquarters
was built in the early 2000s less than half a kilometer away. The building has
been empty since the Border Police left.
In November 2008, Moskowitz
submitted a plan to replace the hotel with over 100 apartment units for Jewish
families. The plans were later scaled down to 20 units to avoid a lengthy
approval process, since the area was previously zoned for 20 residential units.
Ateret Cohanim said a possible name for the new complex is “Nahmanedes
Courtyard,” though the project has yet to engage a contractor.
to the building permit issued by the city, the area is zoned for 20 apartments
in two four-story buildings, and underground parking. The entire complex is
about 8.5 dunams.