Vandals in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel are defacing road signs to remove Arabic from the trilingual signs. Now, a group of vigilantes are fighting back.
Daniel Estrin reports in the Forward:
Jerusalem — Their operation, which has taken place four times since May, is aimed at countering ultra-nationalist vandals who had defaced the Arabic lettering on Jerusalem’s street signs. Over that vandalism, the new vigilantes, with a more pluralist vision of Israel, have put up stickers with large, flowing Arabic calligraphy spelling out the street’s name.
“It’s a public service,” said Romy Achituv, the Israeli behind the wheel, before speeding off to the next sign on the checklist.
So far, the “maintenance group,” as they call themselves, has gone out four times at night and attended to around 50 signs. The $100 or so that this has cost has come from their own pockets.
It’s the latest move in an ongoing graffiti war that has transformed Israel’s road signs into ideological battlefields. The conflict began in 1999, when an Israeli court ordered Arab-Jewish cities to include Arabic translations on street signs in addition to Hebrew and English. In the years since that order, anti-Arabic vandalism has appeared in mixed cities, such as Akko, as well as on highway signs throughout the country — but it is said to be most prominent in Jerusalem.
Full story here.