Apartheid and the suppression of native language – by Alya Zoabi, Mondoweiss

Palestinian citizens of Israel experience systematic marginalisation and discrimination in a wide number of areas, including the speaking and writing of their own language. In 2018, the Israeli government passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, which stripped Arabic of its status as an official language. Hebrew and English are now the most dominant languages in the country.

On July 25, municipal authorities in Haifa, a mixed city where Palestinian Arabs are a tenth of the population, added a sign in the French Carmel neighborhood that was written in Hebrew, English and Russian, but not Arabic.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, whose mother tongue is Arabic, account for just over a fifth (21 percent) of the country’s population. They encounter problems in almost every aspect of everyday life, including visiting the post office or arranging a doctor’s appointment, when they try to communicate in Arabic.

The Ministry of Economy and Industry, Finance, Interior, Science, Technology and Space, and Welfare and Social Services do not make provision for those who want to use the language to establish contact or make a public inquiry. And almost two-thirds (60 percent) of the country’s museums do not provide service or information in Arabic. Until June 2021, the Ben-Gurion International Airport welcome sign did not include a message in Arabic.  And it would not have been added without a petition filed by the Knesset member Dr. Ahmad Tibi in 2004 and a lobbying campaign by Sikkuy (The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality).

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