Is the Tipping Point Upon Us? Jews Nearly Finished Renovating Home Near Lions Gate Jerusalem

A few months ago I had the opportunity to follow Rabbi Ben Packer of the Heritage House into an area of the Old City even the most adventurous activists would think twice before entering.  That did not deter Rabbi Packer and I from making the left at Lions Gate and up stairs and walkway into an all Arab neighborhood.  The neighborhood is known to Jew and Arab alike as a vipers nest, but this area, void of Jews since the 1930’s contains an old Jewish property.  When I walked there a few months ago, this Jewish property had only recently been handed back to Jews. The Arabs were violent and threatening.

The property was broken down.  To make matters more uncomfortable the property shared a courtyard with a divorced Arab woman and her children and some grandchildren.

Today I returned and found a transformed place.  As we make a left down the small street, a kid, once antagonistic now gives us a high five.  The shop owner says hello warmly. In my experience where Jews move and stay, the Arab population eventually learns to live with it.

As we enter the courtyward we see the old Arab woman.  She shows us some rocks the neighbors had thrown down on her due to her stubborn refusal to harm the Jews sharing the courtyard with her. After greeting us she disappears into her home.

The rocks that had been thrown at the woman

“Other than the rocks, her life has gotten a lot better since we moved in here,” Rabbi Packer says as we enter into a room under renovation. “This is real peace.”

A hit piece was recently written in the Electronic Intifada about Rabbi Ben Packer, claiming he has ties to white supremacists.  His concern for the older Arab neighbor and his protection extended to her dispels that myth.

The work has progressed a lot since the last time I had been there.  One room is completely re-tiled, waiting for yeshiva students to move in.  The adjacent room will become an apartment for a young family.

Before leaving I look up at the recently tiled apartment. Etched into the stone above the doorway are two Hebrew letters, still visible from over 8o years ago. In an undying proof of the Jewish people’s claim to their homeland, the letters stand as a marker that we will never disappear and just like the return to this apartment, the Jewish people will return to every house that was stolen from us.

Our return is part of a larger movement.  We are coming home and yes proudly pushing Israel towards the Tipping Point, when the idea of the two state solution will no longer be an option.

Entryway with Old Hebrew Letters etched into the Stone
Work progressing on the floor in one of the rooms
Rabbi Ben Packer speaks to students about the significance of the site

Last Remaining Neighborhood in Muslim Quarter No Longer Off-Limits to Jews

It may not seem large, but the small Jewish property recently renovated is the first such reacquisition in this part of the Muslim quarter since Arab rioters forced Jews out in the 1920’s.  With its low ceilings and shared coutyard with the neighboring Arab family, the new/old property already hosts yeshiva boys.  Unlike other reacquired properties, the newest one is considered a direct security risk for those who have dared to move in.


That has not deterred Jerusalem’s modern day pioneers from pushing forward and filling of the property with the new move culminating in a prayer session within the ancient ceilings.

First Mincha minyan in the most recently-reclaimed Jewish-owned house in the Old City of Jerusalem!

Posted by Ben Packer on Sunday, November 20, 2016

In recent months those who ventured to check on the property met with violence from locakl Arabs as gangs of Arab youth often times threw rocks, even injuring one young Jewish student.  Other times they threatened to kill and maim those who dared to walk down their streets.  The neighborhood is known as such a violent area that even Israeli border police don’t venture there.  After today that all changed.  With new Jewish residents, Israeli security forces are obligated to protect the residents ensuring their safety.

“It was the last remaining area of the Old City that was off-limits to Jews – no longer. Now Jews can walk proudly through every alley!” states Rabbi Ben Packer of the Heritage House.

Posted by Ben Packer on Sunday, November 20, 2016

Break the BDS


ON THE FRONTLINES: For the First Time Since 1930’s Jews Returning to the Lions Gate

home-lions-gateToday’s trip into the depths of the “Muslim Quarter” brought myself and Rabbi Ben Packer to a recently reacquired pro
perty near to the Lion’s Gate. The property was found to belong to Jews when an attorney investigating another property saw this one listed in the binder.

Nestled up and to the left of the Lion’s Gate, the neighborhood has had no Jews living in it since the 1930’s when they were driven out.  In fact, the Border Patrol by the Lion’s Gate stopped us before getting permission from their commanders to let us through.

The property shares a courtyard with an Arab family who were very pleasant and received us warmly. According to reports the Arab on Arab crime in the neighborhood makes it a dangerous area altogether.  The family like others hopes that the presence of Jewish residents will bring much needed police and development.

Reclaiming Stolen Jewish Property Near the Lion’s GateBen Packer of the Jerusalem Heritage House accompanies David Mark founder of Israel Rising into a newly reacquired property near the Lion’s Gate of #Jerusalem.

Posted by Israel Rising on Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Break the BDS


Turning Left at Lions Gate
Turning Left at Lions Gate
Continued approach towards the new Jewish Home
Continued approach towards the new Jewish Home
Rabbi Packer Enters the Newly Reacquired Property
Rabbi Packer Enters the Newly Reacquired Property
Still to be Renovated Room in New Property
Still to be Renovated Room in New Property
Renovating New Home
Renovating New Home

ON THE FRONTLINES: More Jews Are Returning to the Northern Jewish Quarter

Renovations continue on the newest Jewish reacquisition on Al Khaladiya street in the Old City of Jerusalem.  The Al Khaladiya street was the main street in what was known as the Northern Jewish Quarter up until the Jews who were there since the second half of the 1800’s were violently driven out.

Rabbi Ben Packer of the Heritage House led us to the house during renovations.  “The property is the latest in the Jewish return to this former Jewish neighborhood,” Rabbi Packer said as we opened the door. “This is strategic and morally correct.”

Court cases can take years, which causes the properties to cost far more than necessary. Despite the costs, the properties on Al Khaladiya fall within precedent setting cases based around a two generation rental law that is now up.

Listen to Rabbi Ben Packer below:

As the court cases continue multiple organizations and private individuals have increased the Jewish presence in these historically Jewish areas.

“The key is creating facts in historically Jewish areas with contiguity to the Jewish Quarter.  That is now happening,” Rabbi Packer states.

The strategy is clearly working as more and more properties are returned to their original owners.

Ben Packer
Rabbi Ben Packer at the Entrance of the newest home on Al Khaladiya Street
Northern Jewish Quarter
Northern Jewish Quarter
"And you shall put a sign on your doorposts."
“And you shall put a sign on your doorposts.”

ON THE FRONTLINES: Jews Moving Back to Hebron Neighborhood Years After Their Removal

In 2008, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak colluded to remove a number of Jewish families living in the Mitkanim neighborhood next to the Avraham Avinu quarter in Ancient Hebron.

The Mitkanim neighborhood historically belonged to the ancient Jewish community in the city before the Jews were systematically massacred by the city’s Arabs in 1929. The Mitkanim neighborhood is an extension of Hebron’s market place known as the Shuk and was the site where Shalhevet Pass, an infant, was brutally killed nearly 16 years ago by Arafat led PA snipers.

Shalhevet Pass
Shalhevet Pass

The new buildings are a welcome development for the Jewish community in Hebron which has seen a real renaissance in the last few years.  The buildings would correct a historic wrong perpetrated by the British colonial forces that stood by while marauding Arabs wiped out the ancient Jewish community.

Rabbi Ben Packer of the Heritage House notes that it is actually private individuals that have pushed the government to act. “It seems the government policy is slightly changing. This could open the door too much more development! However, its important to point out that without the Yeshiva (Shavei Hevron) next door to this army base, this would be very unlikely,” Rabbi Packer says. “The Yeshiva has been developed through private donors and coupled with the recent legal purchases of Beit HaShalom, Beit HaMachpela, Beit Leah and Beit Rachel all exemplify the incredible power that private individuals have in strengthening the Jewish presence.”

Although Beit Machpela, Beit Leah, and Beit Rachel are all in dispute within the judicial system, history has shown that perseverance and patience are the best tools to secure and reclaim Old Jewish Hebron.



Reclaiming Jerusalem One House At a Time: “Now is the Time to Buy”

Jerusalem, home to the Jewish nation for more than 2,000 years, is seeing a historic trend of Jews claiming ownership in its neighborhoods. We are all familiar with Jews living in the Jerusalem neighborhoods we normally visit. However, there are many brave Jews that take ownership of properties in dominantly Arab neighborhoods. They are taking the initiative to reclaim the land that rightfully belongs to them.

Buying property from Arabs is no easy task. According to the Palestinian Authority, selling land to a Jew is a crime, punishable by death. Hence, there is a conscious fear of selling land to Jews.

Ateret Cohanim, a non-profit organization located in Jerusalem, helps find and buy land from Arabs while protecting the Arabs from getting caught for their “crime.” Ateret Cohanim is responsible for the flourishing Jewish presence in the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Village of Shiloach (Kfar Hateimanim) and Kidmat Zion (Abu Dis).

According to Jerusalem city councilman Aryeh King in an interview with Arutz Sheva, “more and more Arabs are offering properties for sale. Because of that the cost of properties that Arabs are selling is dropping and we are able to buy in areas that we never thought to buy.” It seems the Arabs are less hesitant to see to Jews nowadays. “There is a big wave of new Arabs who are offering properties, and we don’t have enough money to buy all of the properties that are being offered.”

When asked whether it is really possible to reclaim a majority of Jerusalem land, Ben Packer of the Jerusalem Heritage House replied, “We see this is true right now, but can’t know what will be in the future. Now is the time to buy!”

Reclaiming Jerusalem’s Old City

At around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening (October 3, 2015), a knife-wielding Arab attacked Aharon Bennett, his wife Odel, their 2-year-old son and infant who were on their way to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. Hearing the screams of help from Odel Bennett, from his apartment window, Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, an Old City resident and IDF reserve officer, didn’t hesitate, and went downstairs from his apartment in Beit Wittenberg (HaGai Street), with his gun, to try and save those wounded by the Arab terrorist in the attack, but the terrorist stabbed him and seized his weapon. Lavi and Bennett, who were stabbed in the upper body and were unconscious when paramedics arrived at the scene, died in hospital shortly afterwards.

Now, over 7 months later, another Jewish acquisition in Jerusalem’s Old City, facilitated by the Ateret Cohanim organization has been approved by legal authorities.

“Arab terror and ongoing Arab incitement and violence, has an aim of  trying to drive Jews out of Jerusalem, to keep Jews away from the Old City, the Temple Mount and even the Kotel, and also intends to weaken the resolve of the Jewish people, especially of the families and students in and around the Old City,” says Daniel Luria, Executive Director of Ateret Cohanim. “However the Arab are mistaken on all fronts. We will not be driven out of “our Jerusalem” and such acts of violence has only strengthened our resolve, strength of conviction, faith and fortitude.”

The building will be home to 3 or 4 Jewish families and some Yeshiva students. There are today over 1000 Jewish residents, including many Yeshiva students, of the old Jewish Quarter,(renamed the Moslem Quarter) in addition to the 4000 Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter.

The newest acquisition is only a few minutes walk from the site of the murder of Rabbi Lavi and Bennett.  Building and buying in the Old City in areas where Jews were driven out in 1929, 1936-37, and 1948 is not only a powerful and lasting response to ongoing Arab terror, it is the best way to honor the memory of the fallen residents, especially the week of Israeli Memorial Day and Independence Day.

“It’s a spectacular accomplishment and it will hopefully lead to many more in the near future,” adds Rabbi Packer head of the Heritage House. “The Arabs are ready to leave. The question is: Are the Jews ready to take possession of the Land.”


The Arabs Have Understood We Are the Sovereign

I spent time today with Rabbi Ben Packer of the Heritage House, based in the Old City. We covered security, politics, settlements, and more. Ben is one of the few people I know that is unstoppable on the front lines in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

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