A Paris suburb was forced to remove plaques naming a local street after the 1948 Palestinian exodus, and calling the first Israeli PM a “war criminal.” The signs sparked an outcry from Jewish groups and were later vandalized.
A street in Bezons commune, a northwestern suburb of Paris, was renamed “Allee de la Nakba” (Nakba Lane) by its communist mayor Dominique Lesparre on Monday. The word Nakba (literarily translated as ‘catastrophe’) is used by Palestinians to describe the events of 1948 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the Arab-Israeli War.
“In memory of the expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians and the destruction of 532 villages in 1948 by the war criminal David Ben Gurion for the creation of the state of Israel,” read plaques in French and Arabic, referring to Israel’s first prime minister.
CRIF, an umbrella group of French Jewish organizations, took to Twitter demanding the city authorities take down all plaques which “encourage the current acts of anti-Semitic violence by trying to give them historic justification.”
Israel's Ambassador to France Aliza Bin-Noun accused the city mayor of backing “Palestinian terrorism,” which she called “shameful and unacceptable.”
On Tuesday morning, a number of French media, including Le Parisien, released photos of the “Allee de la Nakba” plaque, covered with black paint.
Later, the plaques were removed after a call from the top central government official of Val-d'Oise department, where the commune is located. The prefect explained that the plaques could “seriously disrupt public order.”
In the meantime, Le Parisien reported that Lesparre had started receiving anonymous threats on social networks and via telephone. The perpetrators reportedly called him a “Nazi communist,” vowing to “blow up the mayor.”
Lesparre has long been advocating for the recognition of Palestine as a state. In 2014, the European Jewish Congress condemned his decision to honor Majdi al-Rimawi, a Palestinian sentenced to 80 years in jail for murdering an Israeli government minister.
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