Israel, Justice, Politics

Israel's Arabic Purge?

This, from a recent article in the Forward:

In a move that is being condemned for its effect on the already fragile relations between Israel and its Arab minority, right-wing lawmakers are trying to strip Arabic of its status alongside Hebrew as an official language of the state.
Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, Hebrew and Arabic have been its sole official languages. Later this month, however, a bill to relegate Arabic to the status of “secondary language” and elevate Hebrew to sole “primary language” will have its preliminary reading in the Knesset.
The proponents of the bill…say it is an important move to preserve the Jewish character of the country.

Hmmmm, the last time I checked, Israel’s Declaration of Independence had this to say about the status of it’s citizens:

(The State of Israel) will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.

Here are the Knesset sponsors of the bill, along with their email addresses, in case you’d like to give them some feedback on their efforts to diminish the standing of their state’s own citizens:
Otniel Schneller (Kadima): [email protected]
Yakov Margi (Shas): [email protected]
Limor Livnat (Likud): [email protected]
Yuli Edelstein (Likud): [email protected]

18 thoughts on “Israel's Arabic Purge?

  1. an appeal to the declaration of independence is an interesting basis for critique – but somewhat misleading.
    the two things which are conspicuously missing from the declaration itself are (i) the word ‘democracy’ and (ii) any concept of group, or collective rights (obviously with the exception of the Jewish majority)
    the declaration offers “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;” that is, as individuals. freedom of education and culture doesn’t necessarily entail that certain forms of culture / language need to be enshrined within law, or elevated to official status (a point, i’m sure, that hasn’t been lost on those sponsoring the bill.)
    which isn’t to suggest that i’m supportive of the bill – far from it. it’s cultural genocide wrapped in the rubric of parochial appeals to jewish (linguistic) purity – a trend that is hardly new, nor surprising (and not only directed against non-jews.)
    it also constructs a model of essentialist jewish identity and, i suspect, reveals a deep anxiety about the legitimacy, success and future of the zionist project.

  2. to formermuslim-
    What an incredulous this to say! The question is not about the “survival” of the Arabic language, it is about the survival of Israeli democracy! How can it be a state of its citizens if the second most-widely spoken language, and one which has historically been given the status of an official language, is removed from the list? Is Russian or English going to replace it (has v’shalom)?

  3. I think it’s pretty blatant racism. Plain and simple. Like thhe opposite of putting the Ten Commandments or the Confederate flag over a statehouse, it’s symbolism is pretty clear: “Fuck you.”

  4. That part of the Declaration of Independence has proven to be a mistake (along with the decision not to expel the entire Arab population before the end of the ’48-49 war; and the annexation of the Wadi Area in 1950.)
    Let the state of Israel be the state of the Jewish people, and Palestine can become the homeland for the Palestinians…or one of the other 21 Arab countries.
    If that is racism KFJ, then I am standing up as a racist. I want us to have our own place.

  5. Jonathan, where the hell is “the wadi area”? There are over a hundred wadis in Israel! What you mean is “Wadi 3rah”, but your ignorance disqualifies you from saying anything about Israeli politics.

  6. Amit–
    You know exactly what I meant by the Wadi Area. It’s the region taken by Israel in 1950, through an agreement between Ben-Gurion and Abdullah. It’s always referred to as the Wadi Area.
    If you want to criticize, disagree, or even hate me, fine.
    But please don’t go down that “igorance” path, considering that I’ve caught you making actual factually errors about Israel/Palestine.

  7. KFJ, if Zionism is the idea that the Jews will have their own country…then to me it means that, at a minimum, the vast majority of the citizens of that Zionist entity will be Jews.
    If we look at the cold reality, the state of Israel might not even have a Jewish majority in two generations, if we continue along the path we have taken.
    That’s why I keep writing here that Israel must do everything possible to separate the Jewish and Arab communities ASAP into two separate political entities.
    Let the Arabs have Palestine, and we can have Israel.
    Personally, I would never complain if others charge Zionism as racism (if wanting the state of Israel for the Jews is racism then I am indeed a racist.)

  8. Jonathan, it’s just flabbergasting is all. I mean, one of the landmark historical affronts to Israel was the UN conference on racism (in Durban, was it?) in which Zionism was voted a form of racism. Outrage all over the Jewish scene. Embattled pro-Israel activists charge those labeling Zionism racist as anti-Semites, as if the plain contradition isn’t problematic.
    I guess it’s refreshing to see the contradiction admitted quite openly.

  9. Who refers to Wadi Ara (apologies for probably not transliterating that properly) as the Wadi Area? Jonathan, where did you catch Amit with a factual error?

  10. One wonders after reading all the comments here why nations separate into different states at all. Isn’t that racist? Not wanting to live in some other nation’s country or have them in your own?
    Oh wait, I almost forgot, only liberal Jews think like that. That’s worth emphasizing:
    On the whole of planet earth only liberal Jews think like that.
    The rest of the world simply kicks out people it doesn’t want and would be surprised if you mentioned this policy is up for debate.
    (by the way, it benefits the arabs even more if you don’t create the false perception that arabic has the same social and economic status as Hebrew. It may be the law, but it ain’t reality.)

  11. KFJ,
    You are right. People should stop saying that equating Zionism with racism is anti-Semitic. If we want our own state, then we shouldn’t cry anti-Semitism everytime that that “state of the Jews” is critized. It’s like that Jimmy Carter book. I haven’t read it, but we all know that Israel is an apartheid state (I would say that some parts of that apartheid system are justified, but I’m sure I’m in the minority here about that.)
    I stand corrected. The Wadi Area is indeed Wadi Ara…or åàãé òàøä My mistake. My bad Hebrew. My bad English. Poor fact checking by me.
    But, in any case, Amit knows exactly what I meant.
    Since I reference this before, I clearly remember Amit blogging about how Israel would never allow Jerusalem Palestinians citizenship. I had pointed out that roughly 12,000 Palestinians had taken citizenship since 1967. Amit explained that the residency status of Jerusalem Palestinians was hardly the same as full citizenship (true,) but I pointed out, that roughly 12,000 Palestinians actually had citizenship. Did any of that make a difference in Amit’s argument? No. Did it mean that I was right and he was wrong? No. Did it mean that he was ignorant and totally unqualified to write about such subjects. No.
    The same can be said for my poor Hebrew and English, and general intellectual weakeness.
    Don’t start saying, though, that I am completely ignorant just because I write something that you find disgusting.

  12. KFJ, if Zionism is the idea that the Jews will have their own country…then to me it means that, at a minimum, the vast majority of the citizens of that Zionist entity will be Jews.
    What about the Jewish Autonomous Oblast?
    (Not that I actually disagree with your point here.)

  13. Jonathan, your ignorance is not the reason your argument is invalid. It is merely an indicator of that fact.

  14. Amit, I am not ignorant. In one year of posting comments here I have made one factual mistake (albiet a strange one, and I’m not sure how I did it, but it was quite obvious what I meant.)
    In any case, let my state a final time, to be clear: Unless we do take some actions that go against traditional notions of liberal Western democracy (transferring the residency/citizenship of the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Little Triangle from Israel to Palestine) we will be looking at a situation where there might be 45-50 Palestinian MK’s in two generations.
    Let’s divide the land into two states for two peoples, based on demography.
    I am not being flippant: if what I’ve written above is racist, then I am prepared to be branded a racist.
    I only want people here to consider what I have written.

  15. Last thing, I just looked at that quote from the Rav below.
    Amit, have you ever considered reading it?

  16. As a proponent of monolingual states, I can support this measure (SOMETHING has to get Israeli Arabs to learn Hebrew), but yet I can’t shake the ethnic/racial motives behind it. Plus, how are diplomats and tourists from Arab countries going to get around if all the Arabic is taken off?

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