Residents of Tel Aviv found Wednesday morning that right-wing activists had renamed streets throughout the city, with previously familiar boulevards now sporting terrorism-related monikers.
Two streets were renamed after late Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, and hastily erected signs designated thoroughfares as “Sderot Runs to Bomb Shelters Street” and “Dolphinarium Street,” named for the Tel Aviv club where a suicide bomber killed 21 people in 2001.
There were also “Death Penalty for Terrorists” and “Incendiary Balloons” streets.
The guerrilla marketing campaign was the brainchild of the Israel Victory Project, an initiative launched by the Middle East Forum, a conservative American think tank that aims to promote “an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat” in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
From ppl who brought you Haniyeh in bikini w briefcase of cash: Overnight several street signs in central TLV were changed. "Yasser Arafat Blvd," "Ismael Haniyeh St," "Incendiary Balloon Blvd" etc
Part of "Israel Victory Project" campaign to harden Israel's Gaza/Palestine policy pic.twitter.com/zg7Fq6tSzS
— Neri Zilber (@NeriZilber) August 7, 2019
In a statement quoted by right-wing news site Israel National News, the group called on Israelis “to move from a policy of conciliatoriness and weakness to a policy of victory and deterrence.
“This approach learns from history that conflicts end only when one of the sides is defeated and surrenders. Similarly, the conflict with the Palestinians and their supporters will only end after the Palestinians recognize the defeat and failure of the violent war. Without Israeli victory, there will be no end to the conflict.”
Wednesday’s stunt is reminiscent of the group’s previous effort to call attention to its political program. In July, it erected a billboard featuring a Speedo-clad Haniyeh next to Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway. The photoshopped image portrayed the Hamas leader at the beach with a case full of money with the tagline “Thank you Israel, I love you. Ismail.”
Massive billboards in Tel Aviv of Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh, in a speedo, on a beach w briefcases of cash. "Shukran Israel, ana ba'hibak, Ismael."
"We're done being scared, we demand an Israeli victory," it adds. Part of Middle East Forum's Israel Victory Project. Via Ynet pic.twitter.com/o2rc0zBLpd
— Neri Zilber (@NeriZilber) July 22, 2019
“This protest is the result of deep pain felt by many people across all parts of Israeli society,” said Middle East Forum director Gregg Roman.
Israelis are frustrated by terrorism and having to repeatedly fight the Palestinians and ought to “stop managing the conflict and decide [to bring] it to an end, from a place of strength and on our terms,” he said.