Members of Knesset say law builds a ‘collective identity’ that will preserve the ‘values of democracy.’
By Orly Noy
A group of MKs from Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Jewish Home recently submitted a bill that calls to rescind the status of Arabic as an official language in Israel.
On its own, the bill is neither out of the ordinary nor surprising, as it joins a long list of draft laws that were brought before the Knesset plenum over the past years, including the Citizenship Law, the Nakba Law, the Loyalty Law, the Basic Law that declares Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and so on. After several decades of dispossessing its Palestinian citizens from their lands, the state is now moving on to dispossess them of their culture, including their language, identity and sense of belonging.
The identity of the lawmakers behind the bill is not surprising, nor are their party affiliations, which that have long ceased to be part of the right-wing margins and have reached deep into the heart of the ruling party. Let us not forget the benefactor of the bill, “The Lobby for the Strengthening of the Hebrew Language.” One of its members is Dr. Zvi Zameret, the former chairman of the Pedagogical Secretariat of Israel’s Education Ministry. He is the same man who was behind the widespread cuts in civics studies in favor of Jewish studies, as well as the “updating” of the contents of civics books in the spirit of Zionism.
What I find interesting about the current proposal is its wording:
I won’t waste my time writing about the so-called “values of democracy” that this bill seeks to promote. However, it is important to look closely at its other goals: social cohesion, building a collective identity and mutual trust in society. The authors of the draft law are actually saying, unanimously, that excluding Arabic – and thus the people who speak the language – is a condition for social cohesion in Israel, and that a collective Israeli identity does not include Arabic-speaking citizens.
It seems to me that in today’s political context, it is no coincidence that this is seen...Read More