Jerusalem nixes move to name streets in mainly Arab Silwan after rabbis
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Jerusalem nixes move to name streets in mainly Arab Silwan after rabbis

Arab residents had filed petition to Supreme Court, saying naming streets in neighborhood after Jewish leaders marginalized them, disregarded area heritage

Th East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on September 9, 2019. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)
Th East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on September 9, 2019. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)

The Jerusalem municipality on Thursday rescinded a decision to name streets in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan after rabbis.

A municipality official said that a tour of the area made it clear that residents of the streets were primarily Arabs, and that it had been recommended that the streets be given more neutral names, the Walla news site reported.

A city committee in June 2019 approved a proposal to name streets in the area after rabbis and Yemenite Jewish community leaders who lived in the area in the past, including the rabbis Avraham Al-Naddaf, Shalom Halevi Elsheich and Yosef Medmoni.

The committee’s proposal was met with some internal resistance, but the mayor’s office claimed that the streets in the proposal did not have Palestinian residents and that the plan could go forward.

Silwan residents petitioned the decision to the Supreme Court, saying that “giving Jewish names to streets and alleyways in a neighborhood which has an overwhelming majority of Arab residents infringes on their rights of identity and respect.”

The petition said that forcing Jewish street names in the neighborhood disregarded residents’ heritage, identity and culture and was an attempt to marginalize them from the city’s public spaces.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which petitioned the court on behalf of 27 of the neighborhood residents, welcomed the municipality’s Thursday decision.

“It’s good the municipality reconsidered, but a shame that it required a petition in order to bring about that understanding,” the association said.

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