'Nakba Alley' Signs Removed From Paris Suburb Following Complaints and Vandalism

Signs commemorating the Nakba could 'seriously disrupt public order,' according to a top French government official

A banner hangs from an olive tree showing a 'key' and the word 'return' written in Arabic on June 12, 2018 in Bezons, a suburb of Paris.
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP

Signs naming a Paris-area street for the Nakba — an Arab-language word that means “catastrophe” and which many Palestinians use to denote Israel’s creation — were removed less than a day after they were installed.

On Tuesday afternoon, the signs for Nabka Alley were ordered removed by the mayor of the Bezons municipality in the northwestern Paris region. Dominique Lesparre made the order at the request of the top central government official for the Val-d’Oise region, who said they could “seriously disrupt public order,” according to reports.

A plaque is picture on June 12, 2018 in Bezons, a suburb of Paris.
The communist mayor of Bezons, a city in the suburbs of Paris, withdrew on June 12, 2018 a plaque installed the day before to commemorate 70 years following the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and villages in then Palestine in 1948 to create the state of Israel. The removal of the plaque followed complaints by Israel and members of the Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France.
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP

“The affixing of these signs and the commentary that they contain constitutes a statement of position that breaks with the principle of republican neutrality,” the official said in a letter to Lesparre, according to the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities. The letter went on to say: “Consequently, I ask you to remove them as soon as you receive this letter and inform me immediately.”

Graffiti had been painted on the signs after their installation on Monday.

CRIF President Francis Kalifat in a statement had called the renaming of the street “false declarations, shockingly irresponsible and dangerous. They encourage anti-Semitic violence, which is now given false historical justification.”

In 2013, Bezons officials voted to make one of the Palestinian assassins of an Israeli Knesset member an honorary citizen.

A view of the city hall pictured on June 12, 2018 in Bezons, a suburb of Paris.
AFP PHOTO/Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt