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Calls mount to take name of Mexican diplomat accused of rape off Israeli street

Ramat Gan city councilor asks mayor to immediately revert Andres Roemer Street to its previous name, as past ambassador to UNESCO faces assault accusations from several women

Former Mexican ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Former Mexican ambassador to UNESCO Andres Roemer. (Screen capture: YouTube)

There were calls Tuesday for the city of Ramat Gan to redub a street that had been named in honor of a former Mexican diplomat who is now facing a series of rape and sexual assault accusations.

In 2019 the central city dedicated Andres Roemer Street to honor the diplomat’s contributions to the Jewish state. Roemer was fired as UNESCO ambassador for refusing to vote in favor of a 2016 resolution that effectively denied Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

Over the past few weeks accusations have been made by 11 women that Roemer sexually assaulted them at his home after inviting them there for a work meeting, the Financial Times reported last month.

Avihu Ben-Moshe, a member of the Ramat Gan city council and chair of the municipal comptroller committee, sent a letter to Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen urging that the street be reverted to its previous name, El Al Street, Channel 12 reported.

“Over the past few hours, I have received complaints from men and women who live in the city about the case of serious sexual harassment suspicions against Andres Roemer, your good friend, after whom you were quick to name a street in our city,” he wrote.

“I ask that you restore the former name of the street,” Ben-Moshe added. “Ramat Gan must not give any place, and certainly not a street name, to a man suspected of crimes of serious sexual harassment.”

Shama-Hacohen, who was Israel’s UNESCO ambassador during Roemer’s tenure at the UN’s cultural agency, had proposed the name change to the city council at the time.

In response, the Ramat Gan municipality said that the city “would not go on for a single day with a street named for a convicted criminal who harmed women,” but for the time being there were only accusations against Roemer, which he denies.

“This is a very serious matter,” Ben-Moshe told Channel 12. “This street was wrongfully dedicated in his name and the decision at the time caused a big uproar.”

At least three women have filed formal complaints, while several others have posted accusations on social media.

After the street was named in October 2019, Roemer left a letter and gift basket for every resident on the street.

Screen capture from video of Ramat Gan City councilman Aviyahu Ben-Moshe

Roemer, who is also a lawyer, economist and playwright, is the grandson of Viennese orchestra conductor Ernesto Roemer, who fled Europe before World War II. A self-described “atheist Jew,” he grew up in Mexico City, and had previously served as Mexico’s consul-general in San Francisco.

In October 2016 — two months after Roemer arrived at UNESCO — the envoy walked out during a vote on a resolution about the Old City of Jerusalem because he did not want to follow the instructions from his capital to vote in favor. He was later dismissed from his position.

Since then, the Mexican-Jewish diplomat met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has been recognized by the American Sephardic Federation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and other Jewish groups for challenging the UN resolution.

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