Getting justice in Tiberias over a law and bad English - comment

A billboard advertising to English-speaking tourists in Tiberias was filled with mistakes, and the "caretaker mayor" said they would look into if it was incorrect.

 Boaz Yosef looks at the damage caused to the promenade in Tiberias as a result of strong winds, May 15, 2022 (photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)
Boaz Yosef looks at the damage caused to the promenade in Tiberias as a result of strong winds, May 15, 2022
(photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)

Tiberias – one of the four holy cities (the others being Jerusalem, Safed, and Hebron) – is sometimes misspelled as Tiberius, the Roman emperor after whom it was named. The thought crossed my mind as I visited the city with my friend Linda Epstein on June 8 to attend the bar mitzvah celebration of Shiloh Wiseman, which included a kosher Chinese dinner at Pagoda, followed by a delightful cruise on Lake Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. 

On our walk back to our hotel, we passed a pretty park with a billboard aimed at English-speaking tourists, boasting that “Tiberias has it all.” 

As we read it, we were struck by the inordinate number of embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes – as you can see for yourself in the photograph. In this Google/spell-check era, we thought, this is inexcusable. When we returned to Jerusalem, Linda emailed the following letter to the Tiberias City Council:

Fighting linguistic injustice

“I was recently in Tiberias for an overnight stay. The city is looking much better than the last time I was there. However, I came across something which I found quite troubling, given that Tiberias is promoting itself as a tourist destination. As I walked through the town during the evening, I saw this sign (attached below). It was embarrassing to read the English. I have written a correction, which I am attaching here as well.

Surely it can’t be that difficult these days to make sure that when Tiberias wants to promote its history, there is an easy way to make sure the English translation is well written. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

 An error-laden sign in Tiberias. (credit: GABRIEL EMANUEL)
An error-laden sign in Tiberias. (credit: GABRIEL EMANUEL)

It took a while, but on July 3, she received this response in English:

“Hello, I gratefully received your letter. The comments will be checked and we will fix the sign as soon as we find that the translation is incorrect.

Regards, Boaz Yosef, Mayor of Tiberias.”

As far as we can ascertain, there has been no mention that the city found the “translation incorrect” and the sign has still not been replaced. At this point, it should be noted that Boaz Yosef, the “caretaker mayor” of the city, was the subject of a recent controversy that reached the High Court of Justice.

On July 30, a nine-judge High Court panel, led by outgoing Chief Justice Esther Hayut, unanimously ruled that the so-called “Tiberias Law” presented to the Knesset by the coalition earlier that month can be implemented only after the upcoming municipal elections.

The ruling effectively prevents Boaz Yosef, an associate of Shas leader Aryeh Deri, from competing in the mayoral race on October 31. The “Tiberias Law,” passed on July 5 had allowed him to run for office despite a mandatory cooling-down period for interim mayors. 

The High Court agreed with the petitioners, who included mayoral candidates Shani Illouz and Aviv Itzhak and the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, that the law gave Yosef an unfair advantage over his competitors.

Itzhak welcomed the ruling in a post on Facebook, saying he believed justice had been done. “I want to appeal to residents and say that despite the controversy over the law, it is important to remember that our strength is in our unity. The goal for all of us is the same – the good of the city,” he said.

As laudable as this sounds, here is a public-service message to the new mayor: For the good of the city, please fix the sign. The Jerusalem Report would be happy to help.