The end of Upper Nazareth?

Mayor of Galilee city plans to change city's name, end confusion between areas largest Jewish, Arab cities.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Upper Nazareth
Upper Nazareth

The mayor of one of the largest cities in the Galilee is planning to revamp his city’s image – beginning with its name.

Ronen Plot, the mayor of Upper Nazareth (Natzrat Illit) is pushing to rename the city, and thus establish a new identity for the community, distinct from that of its larger Arab neighbor, Nazareth.

First planned in 1954 and formally established in 1957, Upper Nazareth was built by then Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s Mapai-led government as the linchpin of larger plan for Jewish settlement in the Galilee.

Built alongside Israel’s largest Arab city, Nazareth, Upper Nazareth has its own growing Arab population, which now makes up roughly a quarter of the city.

The two remain separate and distinct municipalities, however, each with its own unique character.

That fact, however, says Plot, is often lost on Israelis who live outside of the Jezreel Valley and Galilee, adding that the geographic proximity and similar names of the two towns has made it difficult for most Israelis to distinguish them.

“Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel, and Upper Nazareth is the largest Jewish city in the Galilee,” said Plot. “We get along with our neighbors, but these are two separate towns that are totally different from each other.”

“If after 62 years Israelis still don’t get the difference, then we have no choice but to change our name. Instead of having to correct everyone all the time, we will fix the problem once and for all – and give Upper Nazareth a new name to distinguish it from Nazareth; a name that will highlight the revolution underway in the city for the past two and a half years and rebrand it with a new identity.”

The Upper Nazareth Municipality noted that even Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu confused the two towns during his recent visit, calling referring to locals as “residents of Nazareth”.

Plot, who was reelected last week with 98.62% of the vote, plans to formally propose the name change to the city council in the near future.