Jerusalem Municipality Approves Naming Streets in East Jerusalem After Rabbis

The decision goes against opinion of professional panel that warned the move will increase tensions in Silwan

Silwan neighborhood, 2018.
Emil Salman

The Jerusalem Municipality approved Sunday the naming of streets in the Palestinian Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem after Jewish Rabbis, going against the recommendation of a professional panel who said “It is inappropriate to give Jewish street names in neighborhoods overwhelmingly populated by Arabs.”

The naming committee in the municipality, headed by Mayor Moshe Leon, named five alleyways and narrow streets in the Baten Al-Hawa neighborhood of Silwan. The neighborhood is the focus of efforts by Ateret Cohanim settler organization, and is currently the home of 12 Jewish families and hundreds of Palestinian families.

Settlers argue that there was a small Jewish-Yemenite community in the neighborhood 80 years ago. The newly-approved street names are “Ezrat Nidhim,” after the charitable organization founded by Yisroel Dov Frumkin in the late 19th century which established the Yemenite community.

The other streets are named after Yemenite rabbis: Harabbi Medamuni, Rabbi Avraham Al-Naddaf, Rabbi Yihya Yitzhak Halevi and Rabbi Shalom Alsheikh Halevi. The decision was taken by a majority of eight to two.

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The committee made the decision despite the opinion of a professional panel, who warned that the move will “create unnecessary tension. The names will not be used by residents and will therefore be futile.” The committee recommended neutral street names which will benefit all residents.

The two committee members opposing the decision are city coalition members Laura Wharton and Yossi Havilio. Havilio said he firmly opposes as the move, adding that it provokes Arab residents and will inflame the atmosphere in the neighborhood.