Israel-Bashing and Linguistic Hypocrisy

Israel should not elevate Hebrew at Arabic's expense.

The Israeli government is reportedly considering whether or not to downgrade Arabic as an official language. If a bill submitted to the Knesset passes, Arabic would still have a special status and the Israeli government would still mandate government documents be available in Arabic, but it would no longer be equal to Hebrew, which would be recognized as the “national language” of Israel. Agence France-Presse reported:

Ministers confirmed the proposed legislation had been approved by a cabinet committee, allowing it to move on to parliament. Some 17.5 percent of Israel’s population are Arab. Public signs and government services are typically in Hebrew as well as Arabic and it was unclear whether the new bill would change that…. However, Haaretz said the most recent version of the bill would not subordinate democracy to Israel’s Jewish character, unlike previous versions. Parliament member Ayman Odeh, who heads the mainly Arab Joint List alliance, said approving the bill would mean trampling on minority rights, adding it would “legally transform us into second-class citizens.”

Personally, I see no reason to downgrade Arabic in this manner—many languages are spoken in Israel and many Arabs are proud citizens of the Jewish state. Nonetheless, the complaints about the change seem hypocritical, especially when lodged by outside diplomats.

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Israel-Bashing and Linguistic Hypocrisy

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