Sugar and playgrounds, concerns for Arab Israelis

The NGO sent a letter to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on Monday raising these issues.

June 14, 2016 22:49
1 minute read.
Playground in Kiryat Gat

Playground in Kiryat Gat with little shade.. (photo credit: BENNY GAM ZU LETOVA)

Arab Israelis have highlighted two issues: Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi plans to introduce a bill aiming to improve safety for all playgrounds, while an NGO has sent a letter to the Health Ministry demanding all content for parents and children be provided in Arabic.

The Health Ministry is not publishing its health campaigns for children or parents in Arabic, Liora Amitay, director of the NGO Citizens for the Environment, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

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She said that the Health Ministry has information in Arabic online, but not aimed at children. Nutritional issues such as drinking too many sugary drinks and obesity are problems more pronounced in the Arab sector, she said.

If the information were in Arabic, “teachers and mothers could use the material,” added Amitay.

Jamila Hardal Wakim, a lawyer and head of the NGO’s legal department, pointed out that information available in Hebrew online such as on YouTube is not readily understood by many Arabic-speaking children.

“My nine-year old daughter has difficulty understanding Hebrew, and is just beginning to speak it in school,” she noted.

While some information in Arabic is found on the Ministry of Health’s website, media campaigns are almost exclusively in Hebrew, she said.

For example, earlier this year the Health Ministry began a nutrition campaign against consuming sugar and junk food online, on TV, and in the Hebrew print media.

However, “the Arab media does not get these messages,” she asserted.

Arabic is an official language in Israel, and the government is supposed to publish these messages in Arabic as well, she added.

The NGO sent a letter to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman on Monday raising these issues.

Separately, MK Zoabi is set to present a bill on Wednesday calling for safe playgrounds for all children in the country. Her law will require shading to be installed.

Each year, she asserted, many children are injured as a result of faulty and even dangerous playground facilities including rusty and broken slides, shaky ladders, and poorly maintained swings.

She is also calling for soft materials instead of a concrete surface.

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