So a few weeks ago I was surprised to see that Ariel Sharon lives in an area of Jerusalem called the Muslim Quarter. I thought that sounded odd, and indeed, a bit of research reveals that the Muslim Quarter is in east Jerusalem, the place where the Palestinians would like to someday have their capital. Then, when I was reading the story from The Nation yesterday about the current state of things in Israel, I read that a group called Ateret Cohanim bought Sharon’s house for him, using donations from American Jews. Here’s the paragraph:
Just as ominous, as far as Muslims are concerned, is a messianic Jewish group called Ateret Cohanim (the Priestly Crown). Using large sums of money donated by American Jews, the group has bought buildings near the Dome of the Rock, where young Jewish students who believe that the Messiah’s coming is imminent study how to slaughter a red heifer, whose ashes must be mixed with incense and then used to purify the high priests before they enter the newly built Jewish temple. Ateret Cohanim even bought Sharon a large Arab stone house in the Muslim quarter, which he draped with a large Israeli flag.
This, of course, led me to do more research on the group. The primary benefactor of Ateret Cohanim is Dr. Irving Moskowitz, who runs a bingo parlor that donates millions of dollars to right wing Jewish causes (like Ateret Cohanim, which is colonizing East Jerusalem). Anyway, you can find out more about Mr. Moskowitz at stopmoskowitz.org.
According to this story, Sharon moved into the house in the Moslem Quarter back in 1987, sparking riots at that time. It’s difficult to imagine an act more belligerent than buying a house for the Israeli political figure most despised by Palestinians in the middle of an area that Palestinians consider their own.
Anyway, for all the well deserved flack that Yasser Arafat gets, it’s clear that Ariel Sharon is no better than he is. From his role in the Sabra and Chatila massacres, to his decision to accept free housing from a settler group in the middle of Palestinian Jerusalem, to his march on the Temple Mount that he knew would spark a wave of violence, Sharon has demonstrated that he has absolutely no desire for peace with the Palestinians. Any time you hear him talking about it, just remember that his goals lie elsewhere.