A Jewish State or whatever it is you want to call a country with an entrenched Jewish majority is defined if only in part by a concatenation of names. Because of its sheer size, Tel Aviv is a particularly extensive and intensive Jewish place, an exclusive and self-impacted concatenation of Jewish street names. Zionism is nominalism. In Tel Aviv, there’s no getting out of the Jewish, but the Jewish is almost utterly name-dependent.
I like in particular how Ibn Gabirol turns into Shai Agnon at a empty, non-descript juncture separating north Tel Aviv and Ramat Aviv, as if with no thought to the dignity of either artist. But they’re all there, all the guys, and nary a woman: Bialik, Ahad Ha’am, Rambam, Ramban, Begin, Shaul Ha’Melech, Balfour, Allenby, Herbert Samuel, King George, Brenner, Borgahaov, Usshiskin, Ben Gurion, Rothschild, Herzl, Recanati, Sapir, Ben Zvi, Rashi, Bar Ilan, Saadia Gaon, Lilillienbaum, Arieh de Modena, Bar Yohai, Malbim, Bograshav, Sirkin, Rubbin, Gordon, Nordau, Wiezman; and the list goes on, a geographic-cultural-gendered index to Jewish history and culture.
With all these urban Jewish plus a few British Mandate era placeholders and a few other exemplary gentiles, there is no place whatsoever in Tel Aviv made for an Arab street name. I’m sure it’s no different in Arab cities, towns, and villages, the difference being that Tel Aviv is such a large place, relative to the country. Nominally, the countryside outside of cities and towns is much more democratic, what with its more diversified mix of Arab and Jewish place names.
But here’s the funny thing about Tel Aviv. Except for Rabin, who by now has a street named after him in what must now be every Israeli town with a Jewish majority, all the streets in Tel Aviv are named after diaspora Jews. “Ben Gurion,” “Begin,” “Arlozoroff,” “Ben Yehuda,” just where do you think they were born? So much for negating the exile. Historically, Zionism was a Diaspora discourse. You can see that on the map of Tel Aviv.