Oum Kalthoum, also spelled Umm Kulthum, is a famed Egyptian singer known as the Star of the East.
Rabat – An Israeli municipality in Haifa, one of Israel’s largest and most diverse cities, announced its decision to rename a street after Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum.
Haifa’s municipal council made the decision in mid-July. Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted Haifa’s Jewish mayor, Einat Kalisch Rotem, as stressing that the region “represents a model of coexistence between Jews and Arabs.”
Oum Kalthoum has strong fan communities across the world, including in Israel among both Jews and Israeli Arabs, who account for 10% of the 300,000 inhabitants in the city.
The municipality also reminisced about Oum Kalthoum’s appearance on stage in Haifa in the 1930s.
Municipal Councilor Raja Zaatreh said the decision to rename a street after the Egyptian singer is a “way of recognizing the local presence and rooting of the Israeli Arab community.”
AFP referenced local newspaper Kol Po, which published a black and white photo of the singer across its front page after Haifa announced its decision.
Writing in Kol Po, Likud MP Ariel Kallner denounced the municipality’s decision, saying he was “saddened” by the announcement to celebrate an artist who “called for the destruction of the Jewish state.”
Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair also commented on the decision, saying he is “ashamed and mad.”
— طاحـون Khaled (@Tahoun71) July 28, 2020
Many Egyptians and Arabs have also commented on Haifa’s decision, condemning Egypt’s move to “give up” on her house.
سبقت إسرائيل العرب بتكريم سيد الغناء العربي ام كلثوم
— Mohammed AlNuaimi (@mmohd90) July 28, 2020
“This is the least thing we can offer to Oum Kalthoum,” one wrote.
“Israel outperformed Arabs in paying tribute to Oum Kalthoum.”