Dr. Meir Ezri, Israel's first ambassador to Iran, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92. But while many know of his diplomatic pioneering, less publicly known is his pioneering for the Jewish presence in the 3,000-year-old Jewish capital of Jerusalem.
Back in December 2012, Ezri was filmed voicing his support of Israel Land Fund (ILF) founder and director Arieh King, who currently serves as a Councilman on the Jerusalem City Council.
Ezri had owned a plot of land in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem for dozens of years, a plot which Arab squatters had broken into and established illegal structures on. Then King got involved, working tirelessly and eventually succeeding in having the law enforced and the Arab squatters evacuated.
On the day he came to attach a mezuzah on the door of his Beit Hanina property, Ezri said in a video message: "I want to restore it to its original splendor," adding his desire to have property that fell into Arab hands "return to the Jews."
"In this region – eastern Jerusalem, everything that we want to do in (developing) this region, only Arieh King can do it," he said in a ringing endorsement. After redeeming the plot, ILF arranged so that Jewish renters are currently living in the property, maintaining a Jewish presence in Beit Hanina.
The video, which is in Hebrew and in which Ezri explains that he had difficulty speaking due to his medical condition, can be seen below.
Ezri's endorsement came as King ran on the number four spot on Otzma Leyisrael's Knesset list, which fell just short of making it into the Knesset and was a forerunner to Otzma Yehudit, which in the last elections ran on a joint list with Yachad – Ha'am Itanu that again fell roughly 10,000 votes short.
King on Thursday sent his condolences to the family of Ezri, saying "I have lost a friend and a teacher."