International Tribalism or Tribal Internationalism
Tel Aviv has many streets named after famous Israelis and Jews who have contributed in one way or another to the development of the Jewish people, the state of Israel or the international community as a whole. Whenever I go to Jerusalem, I ride my bike down (national poet) Hayim Nahman Bialyk avenue, cross (prime minister) Rabin square and (Medieval poet) Ibn Gvirol street, go up King David avenue, turn left on (president) Weizmann street, then right on (socialist Zionist ideologue) Arlozorov street.
You get the point.
One of my favorite streets in this category is a small one not far from where I live. It is named after Dr. Zamenhof, the man who invented the international language Esperanto.
Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof was a Polish Jew, who grew up in the linguistic and cultural confusion of the late Russian Empire. He observed the animosity and strife between peoples, and thought — perhaps somewhat naively — that all these problems could be bridged by a common language. So, he sat down and constructed an artificial language that he hoped would become a link of communication between all peoples. Dr. Zamenhof launched his new language with an article signed Dr. Esperanto, “the hoping doctor”. This stuck, and that’s where the name of the language came from.
The rest is, as it were, historio.
I’m all for world peace, and since I’m also deeply fascinated by linguistics and languages, I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. Zamenhof, and I’m very glad that he has such a nice street here in Tel Aviv.
Just one thing makes me think. Isn’t it funny that the man so closely linked to universalism and the brotherhood of man, is honored under his tribal name Eliezer, and not the internationally more recognizable Ludwig?
Entry filed under: Tel Aviviana.