On its way to passing a law that would remove Arabic’s status as Israel’s second
official language, the Knesset is simply acknowledging the second-class status
of Arabs in Israel.
The Israeli Knesset is on a roll. First, it passes the anti-boycott bill. Now, it’s considering changing the status
of Arabic
from the state’s second official language into the language of the state’s second class citizens.
I’ll say now what I felt about the anti-boycott law: the Knesset should pass the legislation so the world will
understand what it’s really dealing with.
Arabic might have been the second official language all these years but few Jewish Israelis speak it. NGOs have had to wage legal battles to get Arabic on the street signs funded and posted by the state.
For example, when Adalah filed a petition in 1998 regarding the use of Arabic on national road signs, over 80% of those signs “were posted solely in Hebrew and English; Arabic appeared, if at all, only on signs posted near Arab localities.”
How many times has an Arabic speaker with weak Hebrew gone into a government office and not been able to get the help they need? How many times have they been faced with forms that come in Hebrew only?
And how have those who speak the second official language of the state fared in Israeli courts? I might add that I sat in on a Supreme Court hearing in January and watched a Palestinian man struggle to articulate himself
to the judges in Hebrew, not in the second official language, his mother tongue, Arabic. There was no translator present.
This legislation would formalize the sentiment that has surfaced in a Yafo (Jaffa) school, where a principal has
forbidden Palestinian citizens of Israel from speaking Arabic amongst each other.
The law, as disturbing as it is, is a step towards honesty. Perhaps it will also serve as a wake-up call to those who, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, are still holding on to the belief
that a Jewish and democratic state is possible.
( / 13.08.2011)


  1. At my stage in life very little nowadays comes to me as a surprise. Many mornings when I watch the news on TV, read the newspapers or listen to the radio I almost scream in anger and disbelief at one item or another, especially when it concerns Palestine or the Middle East. The saving grace of sanity and calm has been my darling wife of 40 years, who always says “look for the silver lining, darling”.

    This morning was no exception after I finished reading this article. I, as a Palestinian, was fuming. Yet the sound of calm and reason sitting on the chair next to me said.”They will hoist themselves with their own petard”. For those of you who are not familiar with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, what it means is, they will choke on their own venom. Enough said.

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