The Jerusalem Post
The Diplomat’s worried residents
In the report on the planned move of the US Embassy to the area of the US Consulate in Jerusalem (“US Embassy move could push Jerusalem real-estate prices higher,” December 11), there is a casual reference that says: “In 2014, the US purchased another building adjacent to the Arnona facility.” No other information is provided about that other building, but it is hardly a casual matter.
The other building is what is still referred to as the Diplomat Hotel, and it is not just “another building.” For well over 20 years, it has been an absorption center and home for more than 500 olim from the former Soviet Union, most of whom are by now elderly and frail, and lacking family nearby. Many are Holocaust survivors.
The Diplomat is their community. All of their human infrastructure is there, including social and medical needs.
When the United States bought the building from its owners, it was intended to provide housing for the staff at the nearby consulate. The purchase was subject to a lease with the Aliya and Integration Ministry, which is responsible for the arrangement with the olim.
Naturally, the current residents were shocked by the news and were terrified that they would have to move immediately. After considerable pressure on the ministry, the rental agreement was extended for five years – but that deadline is rapidly approaching.
To the best of my knowledge, despite concerted advocacy at all agencies involved in the welfare of this very vulnerable population, there is still no plan to relocate them in a humane way. This would mean keeping them together as much as possible. Clearly, most could not tolerate being moved as individuals to random places based simply on where a room might be available.
So as we follow the story of the US Embassy and the old Diplomat Hotel, I urge you to press for information about the fate of these people, and to advocate for maintaining their community. JAN SOKOLOVSKY Jerusalem