ABCs of Arabic
The study of Arabic, one of Israel’s official languages, will be compulsory beginning in first grade if a bill proposed by Minister of Knesset Oren Hazan (Likud) becomes law. Public schools teach Arabic only as an elective, and only starting in seventh grade.
The bill passed its first reading unanimously last October and has broad support. Now in committee, it will have to pass a second and third reading.
Yonatan Mendel, author of The Creation of Israeli Arabic: Security and Politics in Arabic Studies in Israel (Palgrave Macmillan), said the law “could bring about a real change in Jewish-Arab relations.” Today, Arabic is taught in schools for security reasons only.
But implementing the bill will not be simple. “There is no curriculum for grades first to twelfth,” Mendel said, “and there are no teachers, textbooks or knowledge of how to do it.”