Israeli Hip-hop Star Hopping Mad Over 'Palestine' Gazelle

Yoav Eliassi took umbrage over Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo referring to one of its exhibits as the Palestine Gazelle.

Oded Yaron
Oded Yaron
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What's in a name? Gazelles in Jerusalem's Gazelle Valley Nature Park, March 2015.
What's in a name? Gazelles in Jerusalem's Gazelle Valley Nature Park, March 2015.Credit: Nadav Canaan
Oded Yaron
Oded Yaron

The hip-hop singer Yoav Eliassi (“The Shadow”), who last summer gained prominence at right-wing demonstrations during Operation Protective Edge, now features in a new episode of Israel’s never-ending Internet series, now playing on all social media networks on the screen closest to you. The star of the episode is the local species of antelope whose English name, may God protect us, is the Palestine Gazelle.

Eliassi posted to his Facebook page an image of the sign “at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo!!!,” as he noted, resulting in furious responses and numerous likes and shares from the right and scornful remarks from the left.

Yoav Eliassi (“The Shadow”) at a right-wing demonstration in Tel Aviv.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

In a further response Eliassi wrote: “A question to all those garbage-can geniuses on the left — why is it called Israeli in Hebrew and Palestinian in English? What do you say to that, arrogant, self-righteous and insufferable scum.”

The zoo responded, explaining in a comment on Eliassi’s post, “That is the gazelle’s official scientific name, as accepted by the international community.” When we list the name of an animal we are obligated to list its name as it appears in the scientific literature. These are the accepted norms throughout the world, irrespective of politics. Let’s invest our positive energies in preserving Israel’s nature. That is where we can really have an impact!”

But a cursory check on Wikipedia shows that the species under discussion is in fact the mountain gazelle. Nor did a Google search easily yield the Palestine Gazelle, and it does not have its own Wikipedia entry. The Hebrew entry notes that the creature’s scientific name is Gazella gazella gazella (less-than-brilliant branding, but neither is it Palestinian).

One commenter pointed this out on the zoo’s own Facebook page, adding that he hoped for a massive lawsuit against the zoo that would prevent such mistakes in the future.

The lesson, however, as usual, is that a cursory glance at Wikipedia is insufficient. In a follow-up response on the zoo’s Facebook page, it was explained that the Subspecies section of the mountain gazelle page lists the Palestine mountain gazelle, adding that the name was given “because it was discovered here when this place was called Palestine. Perhaps next time you will be more careful in your choice of words.

'The Shadow's' Facebook post.

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