Grapevine: Remembering the fallen

The bombing of the King David Hotel, a look into history and memory.

The King David Hotel after it was bombed in 1946. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The King David Hotel after it was bombed in 1946.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
ON SUNDAY Ha’aretz had a memorial notice from the family of Zvi Shimshi, the Lamdan family and Ruthie Kedar, whose father, Julius Jacobs, was among the 91 innocent Jews, Muslims and Christians who were killed 72 years ago on July 22, 1946, in the bombing of the King David Hotel. For these and other families, time does not erase the pain of loss, though some families who have lost loved ones to acts of terrorism have found positive ways in which to honor their memories.
The family of teenager Malki Roth, who in 2001 was among the victims of the bombing of the now defunct Sbarro Pizza parlor on the corner of Jaffa Road and King George Avenue, has created the Malki Foundation, which supports families that have children with disabilities.
The family of teenager Koby Mandell, who on the outskirts of Tekoa was stoned to death by terrorists in 2001, established a foundation in his name that provides therapeutic healing projects for adults and children who have lost loved ones to terrorism. The families of three yeshiva boys, Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, who were kidnapped and murdered in June 2014, established a unity project in their memories, and there are other families who turned their personal tragedies into activities for the benefit of others – decisions that were particularly poignant on Tisha Be’av.
■ FOR YEARS now, the building originally known as the Dan Pearl Hotel, and later the Jerusalem Pearl Hotel, has been an eyesore in IDF Square.
Built on the site of the famous Hotel Fast, which went through several incarnations before it was demolished in 1975, the present structure opened as the Dan Pearl in 1996 but was not a financial success. When its owners were unable to pay a mounting debt to Discount Bank, the hotel went into receivership but continued to operate.
When it opened with 120 guest rooms and a lot of commercial space, the hotel was managed by the Dan Hotel Group, which owns the King David Hotel and which was keen to expand its presence in Jerusalem. The Dan chain signed a seven-year management contract with the owners, and when the contract expired in 2003, it was not renewed and the hotel was renamed the Jerusalem Pearl.
Due to restrictions imposed by the Jerusalem District Building Committee, it was difficult for the receiver to sell the property. While multistory projects are going up all over the city, there is a consensus that buildings close to the Old City, should not be higher than the walls of the Old City, and this was a deterrent to real-estate developers who were happy to build a new hotel, but wanted a larger edifice than the Jerusalem Pearl, which received a building permit only after years of negotiation that included a compromise that allowed for five floors to be constructed below ground level. Now, following an agreement with the present owners, whose identities have not been made public, the building will be demolished and a new hotel with additional underground floors and 170 guest rooms will be constructed on the site.
The municipality had sought to demolish the hotel in 2012, but had been prevented from doing so by court order. The additional rooms in the new hotel will be at its rear, facing Koresh Street. The first hotel on the site was built by the Armenian Patriarchate in 1891 and designed by German Templer architect Theodor Sandel. It was a three-story structure with 100 guest rooms. It included a restaurant and a handful of shops. It was originally called the Hotel Howard after its first manager, Alexander Howard, who had anglicized his name. The hotel was later given a fancier title and called Hotel du Park.
In 1907, it was leased to Abraham Fast, who was one of the heads of the local Templer community, after which it became known as Hotel Fast.
During World War I, it hosted German Army officers who were allied with the Ottoman Forces. Following the defeat of the Ottoman army by the British army and the establishment of the British Mandate over Palestine, the name of the hotel was changed again to Hotel Allenby. At some stage in the 1920s, the hotel kitchen became kosher, but then in the 1930s part of the building served as the German Consulate in Jerusalem and in addition to the national flag of Germany flying from the mast, there was also the Nazi flag with its swastika emblem. With the outbreak of World War II, Fast and other Templers were deported. The hotel premises became a club for Australian soldiers and gradually were taken over by the Scottish Church, which operated a canteen and lodgings. In 1948, the hotel briefly served as the commercial office of the British Mandate and after the War of Independence was under Jordanian control until June 1967, when the Old City was captured by Israel.