Knesset marks ”Arabic Language Day”; Speaker Edelstein: ”Learning our neighbor`s language can lower the wall of alienation”

During Tuesday`s special plenary debate marking ”Arabic Language Day,” Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein stressed that Arabic is an official language in Israel and noted that one fifth of the population speaks the language. Arabic, he mentioned, is also the dominant language in the region.

”Therefore, despite the fact that the mother tongue of most of our citizens is Hebrew, we cannot and should not ignore the Arabic language or push it away from the public sphere or from the landscape of our lives in general,” he said.

Edelstein told the Plenum he believes Jewish students in Israel should learn Arabic, ”just as it is necessary for students in the Arab sector to learn the Hebrew language.”

”Language is a very important bridge between cultures and nations, and I am convinced that mutual familiarity with the neighbor`s language, particularly when it comes to places with mixed populations, can significantly lower the wall of alienation and the mental remoteness,” Edelstein stated.

The Knesset Speaker noted that parliament is seeking to make its work more accessible to the Arab-speaking public. ”The content appearing on the Knesset`s website is accessible in Arabic, of course, and in other languages as well,” he said.

Throughout the day, the Knesset`s committees and subcommittees discussed numerous topics related to the Arab population, including public transportation in the Arab sector, ”women creating in Arabic,” the teaching of Arabic in schools, providing court services in Arabic, providing online government services in Arabic, Arabic signage in mixed cities and more.