+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Aziz Abu Sarah asks readers to help him choose a Jewish name

In continuing efforts to replace what’s left of Jerusalem’s Palestinian identity with a Jewish one, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) has introduced a Knesset bill that would change the Arabic names of neighborhoods in Jerusalem to Hebrew names. According to the Jerusalem Post, MK Hotovely quoted Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, in her justification of the proposal.

Just as we do not recognize Arab political ownership of our land, we do not recognize their spiritual ownership, and we do not need their names, which give off the Arab scent

According to Ynet news, the proposal has enough support from the coalition and opposition to pass in the Knesset.

After extensive soul searching, I understood what the Knesset is trying to do. It is sending a message to the Arab minority that the path to acceptance in the Jewish state of Israel is through ditching our Palestinian identity. We must be willing to adopt a Jewish identity to become equal citizens.

Although the proposed bill graciously doesn’t ask Palestinians in Israel to change their names from Arabic to Hebraic ones, we should take the initiative ourselves as a proof of our commitment to the Jewish state of Israel. This is the only way to reduce the fear of those made paranoid by the existence of the Arab minority.

Those of us in East Jerusalem who don’t have Israeli citizenship at the moment must understand Prime Minister Netanyahu’s vision for Jerusalem. For the city to be truly united, we must undergo a major transformation. We must adapt to the Jewish identity of this land and prove our loyalty in every way possible. We should all march to the Ministry of Interior with formal requests to change our names.

And to all those who are unhappy about the new law, I must remind them that changing the names of Arab towns is not a racist act against Palestinians. When Ethiopian Jews started immigrating to Israel they were required to change their names to Hebrew ones. Israel has actually been more gracious and patience with its Arab minority. Its patience goes so far that it never formally required Arabs to change their names and adopt a Jewish identity. But it surely hoped they would do so on their own.

With this positive spirit of change and transformation in Israel, I have decided to start searching for a suitable Jewish name for myself. What in your opinion would be the best change from Aziz Abu Sarah? Please post your suggestion on the comments section of 972mag.com

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. yuval

      asaf (or asi) avisar! 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    2. Lee

      The Abu is hard to render into good Hebrew, but how’s about Yakir for Aziz, and leave part of the last name, dropping the Abu. So, Yakir Sarah! For that matter, you could declare solidarity with the Mizrachim and leave Abu Sarah as is, since many of them have perfectly wonderful Arabic last names.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Mairav Zonszein

      I would go with Yehuda Ben-Israel Ashkenazi

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ezzeddin Hassan

      comment deleted for foul content

      Reply to Comment
    5. I would suggest legally changing your name to Tzippy Hotobeli. That’ll really piss her off, and will definitely send a clear message.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Shoshana

      Aziz, your Hebrew name would be Oz Avisar.

      Reply to Comment
    7. I’m going with Oz Ben Sarah, that way you won’t have to change it too much.

      Reply to Comment
    8. kammy

      This comment has been deleted

      Reply to Comment
    9. Issa Ibrahim should do it

      Issa Ibrahim should do it

      Reply to Comment
    10. Rick

      I would go for Chaim Palestinovitz, Askhenazi with a small touch of Palestine 😉

      Reply to Comment
    11. lablueyz


      Every man named “Jaim” dies an ironical death. (©)

      I know Aziz from writings on +972. If we look at the
      corresponding letters we have; tzb.

      Tzeb >> Tzev >> Zev
      Tzib >> Tzip >> (AbuBen) Tzipora

      There’s more fun to be had.

      “Aziz” seems to imply “austere” and of course
      “Sarah” is “lady”

      That’s nice but so is Wolf Bird, or even Bird Wolf.

      Tzipora benZev. You don’t mind breaking gender
      nomenclature barriers as well, surely? (That’s my best
      friend’s mum’s name!)

      Now to the more important business if de-arabizing all
      the “shemot m’edot ha mizrajim” and some of the sfardies.

      Have a strong Israeli coffee, there’s lots of work to be done!


      Reply to Comment
    12. max

      It’s difficult to improve such a Jewish name as Aziz Avi Sarah; wouldn’t it make more sense to find a name that won’t confuse people?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Sylvia

      Labluyeiz makes a good point. More than half the Jewish population of Israel has Arabic-sounding, Berber-sounding, Kurdish-sounding names, not to mention many from the Kavkaz. MK Portobelli will never get them to change their names.

      But this just in case :)…
      First, you don’t need to change your name to make it Jewish because it already is. Taken separately, Abu (usually spelled Abou) and Sarah are certified Jewish surnames in here today Israel.
      All you have to do is hyphenate it:
      ABU-SARAH or link it:
      ABOUSARAH (very close to Abouhasira, Abousira, Abesera actually).
      As to Aziz, if Fouad ben Eliezer can be Fouad, why can’t you continue to be Aziz?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Aziz means powerful and strong. The equivalent hebrew name would be “Oz”. So I would go for: Oz. But I would not add Avi-Sarah. I would just be Oz: like the Israeli Prince, Cher or Madonna. If you have to choose a last name, then I would go for Meir (named after the old lady who originally tried to efface you). So there you go: Oz Meir.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Dear Aziz
      Grate idea to change your name to a jewish one, You insipired me to do a similar step, I would like to find an Arabic name to my self also. any ideas?
      Maybe if many will change theire name to a name from the “other” culture it will awaken critic mass of people and change the government name also to something more human.
      BTW what do you think of the name “Kharan” for you? Kharan was the father of Sarah (our mother from the bible)
      so your name will be “Kharan avi Sarah” = Haran the father of Sarah

      Reply to Comment
    16. I’d go with Boaz. Aziz is the Arabic equivalent of the the Hebrew “oz,” which means “strength.” Boaz means “to him there is strength.”

      Plus, it’s my Hebrew name and I think it would be cool for us to have the same name, bro…

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ofri

      Aziz, I agree with the Rabbi, and since Oz is the actual equivalent to Aziz, I will stick to that: Oz. And of course, your nick name should be Uzi.
      Now, since you don’t have a daughter name Sara, maybe Avi Sara would not work.

      As for the las name, since this is all the creation of the brilliant MK Tzipi Hotovely, since Tzipi is sometimes short for Tzipora, or the male Tzipor, maybe you should go with Ben-Tzipor as your last name:

      Oz Ben-Tzipor
      עוז בן-ציפור

      Mazal tov.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Kelly James Clark

      I was thinking Mohammed Abdul Muhammed. But, then again, I might be misunderstanding all of the good will emanating from the Knesset these days.

      Reply to Comment
    19. lablueyz

      Forgot to mentch.


      1. All the Ashqenazim also need to adopt Hebrew names.


      2. Sadly this (no.1) makes my favourite family name of the Levant,
      (Goldstein, Feinstein, Frankenstein -or shteen!) Palestine obsolete. ):

      Reply to Comment
    20. Molly

      How about Israel ben Gurion, after the founder himself?

      This feels like a stand-up comedy joke waiting to happen…

      Reply to Comment
    21. Unless this post is a spoof and my sense-of-humor gene is lacking… I vote to keep your lovely name, Aziz Abu Sarah. Who cares what nutjobs (past, present, future) dream about?

      Reply to Comment
    22. Marie

      You could go a few different directions:

      1) choose an uber nationalist name, like Herzl Leiberman, Netanyahu Trumpeldor, or Begin Ben Yair

      2) go the other direction, and choose a “self-hating” peacenik kind of name that will get you in tons of trouble, like Ilan Finkelstein, 🙂

      3) choose a name that will make everyone mad at you, albeit for different reasons… for instance, take a name like Golda Degeneres or Ahava Hazir

      4) choose the “Jewiest” name possible, like Solomon Hershel Cohen-Levinakowskisteinawitz

      Reply to Comment
    23. Umm Einav

      I’ve long thought that we Israeli Jews should have Arabic names as well. I’ve adopted Umm Einav, the mother of Einav, whose name in Arabic is 3nab (grape), a name chosen for its similarity in both Hebrew and Arabic.
      As for changing Arabic names of neighborhoods, it’s never worked. Talbieh is officially Komemiyut, but mention that name to any Jerusalemite and they won’t recognize it! Same with Katamon (Gonen), Malha (Manhat) Baqa (whose name in Hebrew I don’t even know!)

      Reply to Comment
    24. Toni

      How about Zooz? It’s short, snappy and sounds like an endearing version of Aziz. A name that means “move” would not only tell of your personal struggle and express solidarity with the refugees, but Hotovely and the coalition seem to call you that already. How dark are you willing to go, my dear?

      Reply to Comment
    25. …Stop suggesting names. Unless your suggestion is “Dr. Satire.”

      Reply to Comment
    26. aristeides

      Forget the name – how hard are you going to scrub to get rid of that nasty “Arab scent”?

      Reply to Comment
    27. Amiran, Herut, Harel, Yehezkel, Zephaniah or…. Igor?

      Reply to Comment
    28. I think you look like a Shmulik. Yeah, Shmulik it is.

      Reply to Comment
    29. jorge

      I think you should take it into stages, start with a Russian name like Costa or Vladmir and then couple of years later you change it to Avigdor or Pinchas …

      Reply to Comment
    30. Danny

      How about Vely Hototzipi? Seems oddly appropriate.

      Reply to Comment
    31. sdaq

      yes. lets also change the names of Fatah and Hamas.

      for “Fatah”, lets rename it “Arab’s nostalgia for Saladin to return and conquer the land from the infidels”.

      for “Hamas”, lets rename it “Bloody and violent zealotry where we will avenge our god even if it means breaking his own laws.”

      someone help me out with the hebrew for all that.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Waleed

      @ Aziz, its easy my friend , Azizo or Azaza , just like they turned Yafa into Yafo and Akka into Akko, then you go straight forward to wikipedia and start composing a creative fake myth and add it to their collection of mytholohy (aka big fat lies) lets say you were born into a Jewish family , your name was Azizo and when an evil Palestinian couple took over the house after they were imported from China(as we always do)they adopted(kidnapped, oh like Gilad) you (although adoption is haram ,but anyways they are evil …remember) and they’ve changed your name to Aziz (damn it ,Arabs….)
      Or here is another interesting myth , the guard of the famous temple (I dunno the 1st,the 2nd,or the 5th .. you choose , that we always have to read and hear about till we reach a point where we believe it existed )was called Azio from Azia (to guard) , he was the last person to protect that famous temple from the Romans (who …… you know the rest of the miserable story),anyways so his name was written on the last stone of that “temple” (which they never found a trace of ).Now when the evil Arabs/Muslims (Arabs = Muslims these days)(and I’m not talking about the natives of the land which we never hear about, as history only starts with King Solomon and the “chosen beoble”)conquered the stolen land , they accidentally discovered that precious holy stone and changed the name from Azio to Aziz.
      Now one last thing , dont forget to add some supportive resources so when a brainwashed foreigner(maybe an American) reads that article his/her brain gets extra brainwashing.

      An artisitc advice : steal a stone from somwhere in the old city and sculpture the name Azio (in hebrew) using a costly (e-mail a rich Zionist in the states ) professional help, that would make it a real convincing fraud (myth,lie, …) Good luck

      Reply to Comment
    33. Aziz

      Thank you everyone who made a suggestion, keep it up and give me more names or support an existing nomination.

      I am wondering how would a Ministry of Interior employee respond to such a request!

      I guess there is only one way to know

      Reply to Comment
    34. elik elhanan

      menakhem-mendel, what else?

      Reply to Comment
    35. Philos

      Aziz Abu Sarah = Avaraham Sa’ar-Cohen

      Because you know, just in case they still mistake you being an Arab =)

      (For those who don’t know an Iraqi Likud MK changed his last name to Shama-Cohen because he got tired of being referred to as a “great representative of the Israeli Arab minority”)

      Reply to Comment
    36. Moriel Rothman

      Aviv Abe Sarahstein

      Reply to Comment
    37. Lee

      I got it!! Let’s call you Benjamin! or in Hebrew – Benyamin –
      we all think that this name is saying, to be by your side, the right hand but! let me tell you something else!
      It can be – Ben (son) Ya – (God) and Min!
      what is Min? Min in Hebrew is gender and in ancient Egypt there was a God called Min – and he was the God of fertility 🙂 mmm!
      so.. the son of fertility God!
      I think it’s great Jewish name for you! Benyamin! 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    38. Jake

      This seems like a no brainer: Uzziel Haran – עוזיאל הרן

      – Uzziel because it means “God is my strength”, while Abd al-Aziz means “Servant of the Strong One (God)”
      – Haran because he was the father of Sarah according to rabbinical sources. If you were to go by the Bible, it would be Terah – which is not as nice of a name, and it means that Abraham and Sarah were half-siblings. Ew.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Daniel

      Lovely to see such good will, but you’re still missing the point by a wide margin. The idea is not only to remove the Palestinian identity (and scent) from Jerusalem, it’s also a great opportunity to commemorate prominent Jewish figures who have been deprived of their well-deserved acknowledgement due to the sad shortage of streets our major cities.
      In that spirit, I’d suggest picking a name of a well-known historic figure and commemorating it in person.
      David Ben-Guriun is an obvious suggestion, but Yitzhak Rabin or Shimon(Moni) Fanan would do just as well.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Daniella

      Avraham Avinu

      Reply to Comment
    41. Sylvia

      Philos – You can’t take the name Cohen unless you already are one. Stringent laws of descent apply to Cohens. Shama didn’t just “change” his name to Cohen. He reverted back to it.

      Reply to Comment
    42. lablueyz

      Vuzvuz Palestine
      RE Marie: I like Shloshi Trumpledor (l’dor)
      Or even:

      Reply to Comment
    43. max

      Aziz Abu Sarah,
      As you struggle to analyze the pros and cons of all the suggestions, here’s a ray of light to brighten your day: had you been a Jewish person living in the area conquered by the Jordanian Legion in 1948, you’d have no need to think of changing your name and no one would’ve known where the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood was.

      Reply to Comment
    44. Dan

      Aziz akhi ! My Jewish Israeli friends already chose a hebrew name for me (which btw im from Tulkarm & my real name is Dia Majadli but i felt a great need for one b/c Bibi will end up eating the whole WB). So mine is Dan Meir. In ur case I’d go for something like Oz AviShitrit or Uzi AviShitrit (whatever u choose make sure the last name is AviShitrit) goodluck akhi and will see u soon at the Ministry Of Interior!

      Reply to Comment
    45. Betty

      Hey, you ignored my suggestion! Come on – be fair! Just leave “Sarah” alone – it’s fine… though a bit strange for a guy… Just use “Yehudah” – that way, you can determine yourself whether to identify with your spiritual Jewish roots as a true “God-praiser” and follower of the Jewish Messiah, or, if you really don’t want to be identified with Jews, you can use the form “Judas”. That way, when your friends start shouting “Slaughter the Jews!” again, you can insist you aren’t one of them! Eventually, though, even you might have to decide which side you’re on.

      Reply to Comment
    46. meilleur nom c est aziz lahmar

      Reply to Comment
    47. Click here to load previous comments