Sheikh Bassam Abu Zayid
Mashrawi. Resigned over battle
Photo: Afaf Mashrawi
Giladi. Supports move
Photo: Ofer Amram
Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality has decided to name a Jaffa square after Bassam Abu Zayid, who was a senior figure in the Islamic Movement in Israel and founded the movement's Jaffa branch.
Abu Zayid, who passed away in July of 2008, was considered by Jaffa's residents to be one of the foremost religious authorities.
A square located on the corner of Dolphin and Yehuda Hayamit Streets is to be named after the sheikh, who remained neutral during the internal split of the movement into northern and southern branches.
Since his death a public battle has taken place regarding his commemoration, led by Jaffa council member Ahmad Mashrawi (Meretz), who resigned from his post at the municipality over the issue.
"The fact that Sheikh Bassam was not a member of any branch, northern or southern, makes him very likeable to Jews because he made sure to maintain moderation and coexistence," Mashrawi told Ynet. "There are hundreds of streets named after Jews in Jaffa, some of them biblical characters, even in Ajami neighborhood, which is absurd."
Likud councilman Arnon Giladi expressed surprising support for the move. "The Likud supports the commemoration of people who contributed to coexistence and moderation for the benefit of Israel's prosperity, whether they were Arabs or Jews," he said.
Another street will also be named after an Arab, the seventh so far. It will carry the name of George Hananiya, who chaired Jaffa's Orthodox Union and was one of the city's most beloved leaders.
The city council is also embarking on a neighborhood-naming spree, as part of which Giladi has suggested calling his neighborhood after former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. However he encountered opposition on the part of Councilwoman Haviva Avi-Guy, of the Pensioners' Party.
"Begin was the first prime minister to bring peace. If we commemorate prime ministers, as we have the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, it would be proper to honor him with a neighborhood as his namesake as well," Giladi responded.
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