Har Nof (Neot Yosef) residents continue to fight name change

An event to protest the decision was planned for Sunday at the Jerusalem City Hall as the city's naming committee would be meeting, but on Thursday the committee announced that it was delayed.

A view of the Har Nof neighborhood, Jerusalem (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA/SIR KISS)
A view of the Har Nof neighborhood, Jerusalem
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA/SIR KISS)
Residents of the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, recently renamed to Neot Yosef by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, are continuing to fight against the decision to approve the name change.
An event to protest the decision was planned for Sunday at the Jerusalem City Hall as the city's naming committee would be meeting, but on Thursday the committee announced that it was delayed.

"It is first class chutzpah to delay the discussion again and again and to notify [people] about the delay at the last minute after we all prepared. We set dates and arrangements, but the mayor plays with us and thinks that through this he will exhaust the residents of Har Nof and be able to do whatever he pleases. We are here to let him know that this won't happen!" said the Har Nof protest committee in a statement.
"We will continue to follow and update you at the moment that there is a new date," said the statement. "We ask you to alert and attentive in determining the next committee date, we will not let the municipality play with us and its poor conduct cannot influence our right to oppose the forced move of renaming the neighborhood."
In November, the Jerusalem Naming Committee approved a motion to change the name of the Har Nof neighborhood to “Neot Yosef” after Sephardi rabbi and former Shas party leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Although Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was also mentioned in the original press release as one of the two people the name change was honoring, the rest of the press statement went into depth only about Ovadia Yosef – and since then, his name has largely not come up. One Har Nof resident hinted that Elyashiv may have been mentioned in an attempt to appease Ashkenazi residents of the neighborhood.
About 30 residents of Har Nof representing multiple different religious and ethnic sectors attended the meeting of the committee in November. The residents of Har Nof who have spoken to The Jerusalem Post have requested to remain anonymous, as they felt that having their names publicized could put them at risk.
One Har Nof resident told the Post that whenever they attempted to speak, they were silenced by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. The residents were forbidden from filming the meeting.
Lion budged somewhat and stated that he was prepared to discuss different options for the name including Har Yosef and Givat Yosef, but did not even address the fact that the residents of Har Nof did not want the name of their neighborhood changed at all, according to the resident.
When it came to the vote, the resident claimed that Lion ignored calls to involve locals in the decision and kept repeating that everything was being done according to the law.
The municipality claimed that it would publish an official announcement in newspapers and in the neighborhood. The Har Nof resident told the Post that this did not occur. The committee is obligated to invite representatives of the neighborhood to a meeting in order to express opposition to the decision, but it’s currently unclear who they’ll invite.
When asked during the meeting why the municipality was pushing the name change even though there was such a sharp backlash from the residents, Lion responded, “Because this is the decision. This is what we want to decide.”
The day after the decision, the name of the neighborhood was already changed to Neot Yosef with the name Har Nof in parentheses on the Waze navigation application.
Residents warned that the decision would influence their vote in the next municipal elections. Lion beat his independent, secular rival Ofer Berkovitch by only 2.9% in the 2018 elections.
Residents responded with outrage to Lion's original announcement about the name change, claiming that the municipality did not consult residents or their representatives at all before making the decision. Their main issue with the decision is also that the municipality ignored their opinions about the change. The logistical issues, such as changing addresses for mail, also bother residents.
A municipality spokesperson told the Post on Monday that the public would be “a full partner in the final decision through questionnaires and activity in the neighborhood. Any resident who wants to bring up their opinion will have their opinion heard willingly.”
Some residents of Har Nof claimed that the decision to change the name of the neighborhood was connected to Shas, a complaint that has come up in other name change incidents in Israel.