The South Paterson neighbourhood in US Paterson City, New Jersey, celebrated earlier this week on 15 May, following the renaming of a five-block section of Main Street to “Palestine Way”.
The City Council voted unanimously last month for the street renaming to honour the city’s large Palestinian community and its contributions to civic life and business, such as the local Jerusalem Pharmacy, Nablus Sweets and Palestine Hair Salon.
The Palestinian American Community Centre organised a lively street festival on Sunday along Main Street to celebrate the occasion, consisting of dabke performances, live singers and vendors selling traditional Palestinian thobes.
The day also marked Nakba Day – Catastrophe – commemorating the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, with the establishment of Israel in 1948.
Paterson Mayor, Andre Sayegh, said, “Palestinians are proud Americans. Palestinians are productive Americans. Palestinians are making countless contributions to our communities every day in the United States of America.”
The estimated crowd of 5,000 erupted into celebratory as Sayegh revealed a bright green “Palestine Way” sign that also featured a US and Palestinian flag, reported Middle East Eye.
Community members say the signs display pride, but also send a message of resistance and defiance.
According to Rania Mustafa, the Executive Director of the Palestinian American Community Centre, the decision to rename the street was aimed at combating the erasure of Palestinian identity.
“We see it as a symbolic win; we’re getting people to recognise that Palestine exists, that these are the contributions that Palestinian communities have made, and recognising it in an official and permanent capacity,” she said.