Posted by: noticeable | October 26, 2007

With “Art and Color” the Foreign Occupation Continues

The other day the New York Times published With Art and Color, a Home to Mirror Jerusalem telling the tale of a rich Jewish American couple and their quest for a home in Israel. Honestly, their quest didn’t seem that difficult as their wealth and ensuing luxurious lifestyle made their dream of owning an upscale (1,800 square foot) “apartment” in Jerusalem easier than using an electric can opener to crack a can of chick peas.

After years of visiting Israel, staying only in Jerusalem’s choicest hotels, Mr. and Ms. Zisman, in a eureka!, “why not?” moment, decided to buy in the Holy City. The Times: “When they started talking about buying another vacation home in Florida — they already own a condo in Miami Beach — one of their daughters suggested they buy in Israel. “We thought, ‘Why not?’ ” Mrs. Zisman said.”

In the city of Jerusalem, where native Palestinians are systematically removed to make way for Jews, “why not?” indeed? The Times continues:

“The Zismans were certainly not strangers to the idea of multiple homes. After raising their children in Brooklyn, they built a home in the Long Island community of Cedarhurst near all three of their daughters. They spend six to seven months a year in that house, which has six bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, a living room, dining room that can seat 30, library, den and elevator. They fly down to Florida for long weekends. There also is a country house in Monticello, N.Y., where they often spend part of the summer, and an apartment in the Crown Heights of Brooklyn, where Mr. Zisman, a Holocaust survivor and seventh-generation Lubavitcher, likes to be for the high holidays, in close proximity to the headquarters of the Lubavitch Hasidim.” “We’re Jewish, so we have a home in Florida and a place in Monticello,” Mrs. Zisman said, laughing.”

The Zismans, as Jewish Americans buying real estate in Israel, are not alone. Although Palestinians have called Jerusalem, with its significant Christian and Islamic landmarks, home for centuries, they are routinely denied entry to the city and are quickly being removed from many sections to make way for Jews, both Israeli and new immigrants.
Where a Wall separates the native population from its most important and cherished city, where the native population struggles economically from insidious Israeli policies and laws, where Palestinians may not have one home, wealthy American Jews have multiple homes.

The Zismans spared no expense. They brought in Jeffrey Mark:

“owner of J. Mark Interiors in Cedarhurst and the interior decorator who had designed their Long Island home. With their shared taste for traditional furnishings, including lots of antiques, wood and wall coverings, both Mr. Mark and the Zismans knew what they wanted for the Israeli home.” “[T]heir goal was to create an intimate home with art and a color palette that mirrored Israel and Jerusalem. “It had to reflect who they are,” Mr. Mark said, “and because it’s in Jerusalem, it was going to be better than anything else.”

“The oil triptych of Jerusalem that centers the rounded wall separating the public living space from the bedrooms is a favorite item. They found the middle painting in the studio of Ben Avram, an artist in the Old City gallery, but the other two were on loan, hanging in the offices of an Israeli public official. The artist provided a replacement for the office space, and now the three complementary pieces hang in the Zismans’ apartment.”

“The classic Baker furniture was imported from the United States, including mohair couches for the living room, which are “very durable and practical for when the grandchildren come,” Mr. Mark said. They also imported the wallpaper. Mr. Mark, who commuted weekly from Long Island to work on the project, spent “six weeks straight” bringing in various wallpapers.”

“The Zismans say they are enjoying the wraparound garden, where they have a spacious table, chairs and grill — perfect for the parties they love to have. In the backyard, aromatic fruit trees, including oranges and pomegranates, frame the cushioned chaises longues. These days, nearby construction mars the quiet afternoons, but Mr. Zisman says he relishes the early morning silence of Jerusalem when he gets up at 5 to go to the Western Wall for morning prayers.”

“This is our piece of the rock,” Mrs. Zisman said. “Now that I have it, I’m very proud that I own a home in Jerusalem. As a Jew, it’s a wonderful feeling.”

Indeed, as a Jew, it’s an easy thing to achieve and even easier to deny to others.



  1. This is appalling but seems to have become routine in the U.S. One has to step back in shock from either the stunning ignorance or the willful malice of these people.

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