The Arabic language, at risk in Israel

July 12, 2017

Arabic and Hebrew are the two official languages is Israel. However, a bill has been approved which proposes the elimination of the former language as an official language of the country. In words of MK Yousef Jabareen, this would constitute "another nakba" (catastrophe in Arabic) for Arabs. This term also refers to the mass displacement of Palestinians during the War of Independence.

This politician claimed that this action would suppose a further degradation of Arabic in the public sphere, which would affect "our identity and status". This is what he said in an event that he organised to combat the bill and strengthen the status of their language in Israel. The main event was a roundtable discussion of MKs and NGO representatives on "language, identity, and equality". Not many Jewish politicians attended the discussion.

In this discussion, it was expained that Arabic was inferior in status in relation to Hebrew, and even English, even though the latter is not an official language in the country. As an example, they considered that English is a compulsory subject at schools, while Arabic is not.

This difficult situation of the Arabic language has also political implications, since it would worsen the relations between Jews and Arabs.