Arabic Language at Heart of I$raHell ‘Nation State’ Bill Debate

The US has already slammed the whole idea of the Israeli nation-state law. (RT)

Arabic could be stripped of Israel’s official second language status if a ‘tougher’ version of the controversial nation-state bill is passed. The language is already subject to discrimination.

Examples of Arabic being unwelcome in Israel are plenty, according to Dadi Komem, director of education programs at the Abraham Fund Initiatives, an NGO promoting peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We see more and more working places for instance that ask their employees not to speak Arabic in front of customers, or not to speak Arabic at all, or in shopping malls,” Komem told RT. “Sometimes in the Knesset itself we hear Knesset members speaking against using Arabic in the Knesset.”

Eliminating the status of Arabic as an official language is part of a nation-state law, proposed by a right-wing member of the Knesset, Zeev Elkin. If it’s passed, Arabic could be downgraded to a language with a “special status”.

The bill approved by the Israeli government on Sunday included Elkin’s tough wording.

To become law the bill will have to be passed by the Knesset. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is drafting a “softened” version of the law to take to the parliament. In it, the current status of the Arabic language will likely not be challenged.

It’s not yet clear which version of the law – the tougher or the softer one – is going to be voted on by the Knesset.

Spearheading the campaign for the tougher version to be passed is parliamentarian Shimon Ohayon, who is also member of the Knesset education committee.

“It is a declaration,” Ohayon told RT. “It has meaning on a cultural and national level. It sends a message to the Arab residents – that they live in the state of Israel which is the state of the Jewish people.”

The US has already slammed the whole idea of the Israeli nation-state law.

“Israel is a Jewish and democratic state and all its citizens should enjoy equal rights. We expect Israel to stick to its democratic principles,” the State Department said.

The author of the controversial bill’s extreme version, Zeev Elkin, is not impressed.

“We can keep the foundations of democracy even without the help of the partner over the ocean,” he said, according to Yisrael Hayom, as cited by Haaretz.

Human rights advocates believe that even a softer version of the bill is too much.

“The government’s support for both these proposed laws conveys a negative message to Arab citizens in Israel regarding their affinity to the State,” the Abraham Fund Initiativ

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