Umm Kulthum in Israel: Another Attempt to Appeal to Arabs Using the Name of the Classic Icon?

Published July 16th, 2020 - 06:21 GMT
Umm Kulthum in Israel: Another Attempt to Appeal to Arabs Using the Name of the Classic Icon?
In 2012, Umm Kulthum's name was also given to a street in Jerusalem. (Twitter: @SWUArabic)

Despite four decades of formal diplomatic ties between Egypt and Israel, normalizing relations with Israel on people's level is still a huge obstacle Israel seems to be trying hard to unlock. Over the last few years, official Israeli social media channels have developed a strong Arabic-speaking presence, trying to promote "strong relations" between Israel and Egyptians, Saudis, Emiratis, and other Arab nations. 

Translation: "Umm Kulthum's street in the city of coexistence in the state of Israel. The municipality of Haifa decided to name a street after the Egyptian artist Umm Kulthum. 'Umm Kulthum's name has become equivalent to Arabic music, and the Egyptian one in particular, which is why a street in Haifa city has been named after her.'"

Lately, Israel has focused on showing "deep admiration" for the classic Egyptian icon Umm Kulthum, making use of her wide-popularity to appeal to Arabs, particularly Egyptians.

This week, official Twitter accounts created by the Israeli government announced naming a street in Haifa with the famous singer's name, stirring a lot of angry reactions, surprisingly on both sides. The official Twitter account of the Israeli embassy in Egypt posted the news with photos in Arabic as well, and referred to Haifa as "the city of coexistence."

Translation: "Shame and madness!!!!"

Translation: "The names committee in Haifa's municipality has decided to call a street after the popular Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, noting that she's one of the greatest Arab singers. Having her name in Haifa streets is significant as the city represents a model of coexistence between Arabs and Jews. The Egyptian ambassador to Israel has welcomed the decision."

While many Egyptians slammed the Israeli announcement saying that Umm Kulthum would have never celebrated such a move, the son of the Israeli prime minister took to Twitter to shame the Israeli government for the Umm Kulthum street.

Translation: "They steel our streets and then name it after us. Wow, how classy!"

Translation: "Great! I hope you continue to name streets after Arabs so we won't need to change much in the future."

Translation: "Not interested. If she was alive she would have never agreed to this."

In 2012, Umm Kulthum's name was also given to a street in Jerusalem, yet failed to inspire positive reactions amongst Arabs.

Similarly, a government verified Twitter account called "Stand with us" posted in 2019 a photo of a restaurant with Umm Kulthum's name and photos, saying that the Haifa restaurant "used the Arab icon's name due to her popularity in Israel."

Translation: "Because art knows no boundaries: Pictures of  Kawkab al-Sharq welcomes visitors of Umm Kulthum's restaurant in the Israeli city of Haifa. Umm Kulthum is widely popular in Israel."

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