Haifa Residents Demand Renaming of ‘UNESCO Square for Tolerance and Peace’ After Hebron Vote
Some residents of Haifa are calling on their municipal government to change the name of a city square named after the UN cultural agency that has recently passed a series of anti-Israel resolutions — including one last week that designated the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as an endangered Palestinian World Heritage site.
The square — located at the upper end of Ben-Gurion Boulevard in the German Colony neighborhood of the northern Israeli port city — received the title “UNESCO Square for Tolerance and Peace” after the UN body chose the adjacent Baha’i Gardens as a World Heritage site nearly a decade ago, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Monday.
Following the Hebron vote last week, according to Walla, a number of Haifaites launched a campaign — including a petition — to have the square be renamed.
Nir Shuber — a local cafe owner and Labor Party activist who is leading the effort — was quoted by Walla as saying, “I and many others were convinced this was an organization working on behalf of preservation, but it has become clear to us as of late that it is an organization acting against Israel.”
“In recent years,” Shuber continued, “the square has become a place where anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian demonstrations are held, and this apparently is not by chance.”
Shuber suggested that the square be named after Israel Prize winner Vered Hulda-Gurevich, late Haifa Mayor Aryeh Gur’el or late Israeli President Shimon Peres.
In the wake of the UN General Assembly’s passage of a resolution in 1975 that equated Zionism with racism (a resolution that was revoked in 1991), Haifa changed the name of UN Boulevard in the city to Zionism Boulevard.