Treat Arabic as genuine official language, says Arab NGO Dirasat

Dirasat, established in 2006, works for achieving equality for the Arab minority in Israel.

May 8, 2014 05:03
1 minute read.
Arabic copy of Amos Oz’s book

Arabic copy of Amos Oz’s book 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

An Arab NGO says the Arabic language is neglected by the state, even though it is an official language.

Dirasat: The Arab Center for Law and Policy argues that Arabic has become neglected to such an extent that it has basically become an unofficial language.

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“We would like to initiate policy reforms, continue to advocate for implementing the law that Arabic is an official language, and could petition the supreme court,” Yousef Jabareen, the general director of Dirasat, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Arabic is not being treated as an official language by governmental offices, said Jabareen, noting that all governmental websites, forms, and services should be available in the language. Moreover, he adds that government institutions should hire more Arabs.

“It is politics of contempt,” said Jabareen.

Dirasat, established in 2006, works for achieving equality for the Arab minority in Israel.

Arabic also needs to be strengthened in the education system, he said, adding that the language is being taught less in Jewish schools as of late.

Regarding local Arab municipal institutions, Jabareen says more Arabic needs to be used for communications as more Hebrew is being used “because it is the hegemonic language.”

The NGO is even appealing to the private sector, encouraging lawyers and accountants to make sure they are using Arabic when communicating with clients.

“We hope to reinforce Arabic as it is part of our identity” and it can be “the basis for success in other areas.”

Dirasat released a report on the subject last year titled Arabic Language in Israel: Vision and Challenges, which suggests guidelines for policymakers.

First, it calls for reinvigorating standard Arabic as much of the Arab public “holds a negative conception of Arabic” because it is seen as “impractical” and an “obstacle” for advancement. However, the report argues that it can also be a “vehicle of modernism,” able to meet modern needs.

Second, it calls for advocating for Arabic in Israel and third, for restructuring the teaching of the language.

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