Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lordour God,
I will seek your prosperity. (Psalm 122: 6-9)
By Christine Darg, Jerusalem Channel
Christians throughout the Middle East face extermination, but Christians in Israel have been protected. And in recent years much progress has been made in Jewish-Christian reconciliation, as the People of the Book become mutually supportive of one another.
But now the spiritual warfare currently swirling around Jaffa Gate’s Imperial Hotel and Petra Hostel is threatening the peace and stability of Jerusalem. We must pray for the utmost wisdom for Israel’s leaders at this time. The sensitive status quo of the Old City’s four quarters has been a delicate balance between Jews, Christians and Muslims for generations.
YES, we want Israel to prosper and to unify Jerusalem but not to be seen trampling upon the rights of Christians–especially since Israel has been the only democracy in the Middle East where Christian rights have been upheld better than any other country in the region.
There have been times when Israel has been falsely accused of trampling upon Christians when, for example, they have tried to maintain order at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as various Christian factions have shamefully come to violence over rights within the sanctuary.
But the current situation in the Christian Quarter at Jaffa Gate is much more dangerous, because the Christian community’s presence and atmosphere are being threatened.
Let us continue in prayer that the excellent progress that has have made in recent years in reconciliation measures between Christians and Jews will not be set back through a property deal that is seen by many to have been dubious.
After 14 years of argument, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled last month on a property lease between a now discredited financial advisor to the Greek Orthodox Church and Ateret Cohanim, an organization aimed at acquiring land and property to create a Jewish majority. The organization has been involved in a number of legal disputes.
At age 75, the Imperial Hotel’s manager, Abu Walid Dajani, says he is now in the fight of his life to hold onto his tenancy which is supposed to be protected by law due to the fact that his family has held a three-generation tenancy for 70 years. Most Israelis would assume he has lost his tenancy because of the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of Ateret Cohanim after 14 year of court wrangling, but now Mr. Dajani says he is counting on international pressure–and ultimately a miracle from God– to prevent his eviction.
The hospitable Mr. Dajani and his family are beloved by countless pilgrims as attested to by the effusive comments in his guest books over the years; he has humbly served them tirelessly with indefatigable energy and brotherly love.
I was also very touched by his initial willingness to cooperate with his new landlords. Mr. Dajani always believed that he would remain as the hotel manager if the Ateret Cohanim won the case. However, to send him an eviction notice–that he and all of the furnishings had to be out within one month– was a big shock. He had worked feverishly over the past couple of years upgrading the building to a classy boutique-style hotel.
The just God of Israel will take every factor into consideration. As one of the many Christian pilgrims commented today, “This is so sad!! I love staying at the New Imperial and Mr. Dajani, always standing at the top of the stairs saying, ‘Welcome Home!’ He and his family have done so many renovations; it is sad to see him mistreated.”
The wisdom of Solomon is needed at this present time. Please keep this complex situation immersed in prayer: changing the dynamic of the Christian Quarter would be harmful not only for Christians but also for Israeli hasbara. This link has a lot of new information, including how this case might negatively affect homes of Jewish residents in neighbourhoods leased from the Orthodox Church. The evacuation of the Old City assets could have an impact on other lands under dispute in the capital; for example, the Patriarchy is the original owner of massive lands within Jerusalem’s Rehavia and Talbiye neighborhoods, leased to the Israel National Fund for a period of 99 years, set to end soon. This means that hundreds of Israelis could lose their homes in case the church reclaims its lands in these central Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Please pray also that the goodwill of the Dajani family will be strengthened and not damaged. Professor Dr. S. Mohammed Dajani-Daoudi is a peace activist who has led groups of Palestinians to Auschwitz and has gained international recognition for his extensive record in helping to raise awareness concerning the Holocaust. He has risked his life and academic career doing so! Another Dajani family member just this week, Iyad Dajani-Daoudi, received his PhD in communications and runs a website for peace and reconciliation between Arabs and Jews. (The name Daoudi is often added to the Dajani family name because they held the key to the tomb of King David on Mt. Zion for 500 years.)
Dr. Dajani-Daoudi said today on one of his Facebook pages, “The City of Jerusalem as a city cherished by the three Abrahamic faiths ought to be the model for the City of Peace where Jews, Christians, and Muslims coexist together in peace and harmony.”