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  • Teaching our children Arabic should be elementary

    A new study shows that Jewish Israeli teens who studied Arabic in elementary school have a better appreciation for Arab society later on. As the government continues its attacks on Arabic, it is imperative that teachers and parents fight to ensure children learn the language. By Gil Gertel The so-called nation-state bill, which passed its first reading in the Knesset last week, is not intended to uphold Israel as the "nation-state of the Jewish people" as per MK Avi Dichter (Likud), the original author of the bill, in 2017. The privileges of Jews in Israel are well protected, including legally,…

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  • Following complaints, bus company halts Arabic-language announcements

    Residents of Be'er Sheva were enraged to find out that a new bus company had announcements in both Hebrew and Arabic. After numerous complaints, the Arabic announcements came to an end. By John Brown* An Israeli bus company in the southern city of Be'er Sheva stopped activating its Arabic-language announcement system last week, following complaints by city residents. [tmwinpost] The company, Dan Be'er Sheva, won a tender in January of this year, replacing the Metro Dan company to the delight of many residents, who have repeatedly criticized the city's poor public transportation. The new buses include a PA system, which…

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  • Creating a radical Hebrew culture — in the diaspora

    Israeli artists and authors abroad are beginning to create an alternative Hebrew culture that challenges norms and national borders. Israeli politicians, on the other hand, aren't so pleased. By Mati Shemoelof Over the past few years we have been witnessing the growth of an alternative Hebrew culture, both independent and diverse, outside of Israel. Just recently two Hebrew-language publications have been published in Berlin: the bi-lingual magazine "Aviv," edited by Hano Hanostein and Itamar Gov, and "Mikan V'Eilach," dedicated to diasporic Hebrew and edited by Tal Hever-Chybowski. They join the relatively older magazine "Shpitz," edited by Tal Alon, and a number of institutions…

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  • When will Israelis start speaking Arabic in public?

    A disturbing encounter at a Jerusalem mall reminds Mya Guarnieri that speaking a second or third language does not mean you have to give up your own. Living in Bethlehem, working at a Palestinian university, studying Arabic; writing about the occupation and Israel’s treatment of migrants; standing by my partner, who is under intense pressure from his family to leave me because I’m Jewish. All of this could be considered “political work.” But maybe this isn’t the type of work that affects change. Maybe change happens on a smaller scale? With smaller seeds? I was in Jerusalem's Talpiyot neighborhood running…

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  • The power of speaking Hebrew in Gaza

    Can Gazans boycott Israel while also studying Hebrew at university? One Palestinian believes in the power of understanding Israeli culture and people in their own words. By Abeer Ayyoub “It is 6:30 a.m. Jerusalem time, this is the broadcast from Voice of Israel.” This is how my mornings have always started since I was six years old, or at least on days when I had to wake up for school. Not because I was always interested in the news, but because my father, who gets up for the Fajr morning prayer, can never start his day without listening to the "local"…

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  • Is Twitter jargon pushing English to resemble Hebrew?

    As Twitter and text messaging push vowels out of English to economize on space, could the language end up looking more Semitic than Germanic? I’m used to seeing abbreviations on Twitter, Gchat, and SMS. But I was surprised recently when an editor closed an email with “Rgds.” The “s” on the end helped me guess that it wasn’t short for “Rigid” or “Raged,” or so I hoped. Given the context, I assumed he meant “Regards.” But I wondered how such a word ended up in a business letter? Did it mean that Twitter-ese is making its way into formal, written correspondence?…

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  • Ideological revolution in Zionism must include feminist values, rhetoric

    By Zoe Jick This week's provocative NY Times op-ed by Peter Beinart is already the subject of much controversy among those engaged in public debate about Israel and Zionism. Coming from a prominent academic voice of liberal Zionism, Beinart’s message pushes the boundaries of pro-Israel activism by maintaining his “devotion to the Jewish people” while allowing for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) in the occupied territory, or “undemocratic Israel.” His statements will incite backlash from the American Jewish community, many of whom protest BDS across campuses, co-ops and institutions nationwide. His call for locality-focused BDS aside, the op-ed’s most valuable lesson is…

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  • Bernard Avishai on the "right of return" and other rights

    Professor and author Bernard Avishai published an article in Harper's Magazine that sparked a +972 debate on  Zionism. Here, in a post that originally appeared on his blog, he responds to some of the charges against his positions that have since been sounded in the blogosphere. By Bernard Avishai At bottom, the question my Harper's piece tries to answer is deceptively simple and by no means relevant to the Palestinian right of return alone. It is this: how can a democratic state, a commonwealth of free citizens, be reconciled with the right of citizens, collectively, to sustain national distinction? How is an…

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  • Can one be a liberal and a Zionist without being a liberal Zionist?

    An alternative understanding of Zionism sees no contradiction between liberalism and Zionism, and makes possible various political arrangements, which do not place the national aspirations of Jews ahead of those of Palestinians. By Jerry Haber Can one be a liberal (or: progressive) and a Zionist? The debate has been going on for some time now, and recent entries in the debate on +972 by Joseph Dana, Larry Derfner, and Abir Kopty, are worth reading. What’s interesting is that both the advocates and detractors of liberal Zionism agree that there is an inherent contradiction between being liberal and being Zionist. Derfner considers…

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  • "We" speak Hebrew, "them" Arabic. Why negotiate in English?

    Many have argued that the US is no longer a neutral broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I'll take it one step further: is English even the appropriate mediating language? William Shakespeare famously asked, "What's in a name?" I (less famously) will ask, "What's in a language?" Today, I called the mobile provider Orange to argue about my bill. I was asked to provide them (again) with my email address. Me spelling it out went something like this... Me: “R” for Roee, Romeo, like the Hebrew letter “raysh” Orange agent: “M?” Me (thinking to myself): “How the #$%W#$ did…

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