Children at Beersheba’s Hagar bilingual school read together.
(photo credit: HAGAR: JEWISH-ARAB EDUCATION FOR EQUALITY)
MK Oren Hazan (Likud) does not speak Arabic, but he would like to – a gap in his education that inspired him to propose a bill requiring Israeli pupils to study Arabic from first grade.
The legislation states that schools in all sectors of Israeli society must learn Hebrew and Arabic – Israel’s official languages – from first grade onward.
“Just as it cannot be that Arab citizens complete 12 years of school without knowing Hebrew, the existing situation, in which Jewish citizens complete 12 years of school without knowing Arabic, cannot continue,” Hazan wrote in the bill’s explanatory portion.
The Likud MK pointed out that Arabic is on street signs and used by public institutions and government offices.
Mandatory Arabic classes “will allow students and citizens to understand one another,” he explained. “Knowing the language of the other is the basis for understanding and mutual respect, which are necessary in the current situation in Israel.”
According to Hazan, knowing Arabic will help Jewish Israelis understand Israeli Arabs’ culture and social codes.
“Knowing the language and being able to communicate with different people can increase our sense of security and serve as a bridge between people,” he added.