Lebanon – Sidon neighborhood changes its Jewish name in honor of Gaza

(The Daily Star, September 3 2010)

A Sidon neighborhood referencing the Jewish people was renamed by locals in honor of the besieged Palestinian Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Residents of the southern city of Sidon raised a metal sign that read “Haret Gaza,” Arabic for Gaza neighborhood, in an area known as “Haret al-Yahoud,” Arabic for neighborhood of the Jews.

The redubbing of the street was organized by a number of locals who wished to show solidarity with the International Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, which falls on Friday.

“The move to rename the neighborhood is concurrent with the launching of negotiations between the Zionist entity and Palestinian authorities … It also expresses our refusal of the unjust siege that has been imposed on Gaza for more than four years,” said Sheikh Khoder al-Qabsh. Qabsh called on Sidon authorities and all officials to fully adopt the new name.

The original name of the neighborhood dates back to when most of its residents were Lebanese of Jewish religion. They started leaving the country in the 1950s and were absent by the time the Civil War erupted.

“The Jewish religion had a strong presence in Sidon and most Jews living in the city were rich merchants who gave out loans to fishermen,” recalled Hajjeh Nahla al-Jardali.

The new name given to the neighborhood stirred the interest of young people and many children carried plastic weapons and acted out battle scenes between the Resistance and Israel. “The Resistance won of course,” said the child leader of the make-believe Resistance Mahmoud al-Rifaii.