Beyond Babel


By Geoffrey Paul
August 26, 2010
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It has taken 62 years but, at last, 200 Israeli schools from Haifa northwards, including 42 which are religious, are to start teaching the country’s second official language, Arabic, to students in grades seven to ten. And the promise is that the programme for teaching Arabic will soon be adopted by schools across Israel. “Too little and too late,” one prominent Israeli Arab academic commented to me. It is he who has also pointed out that a remarkable percentage of Hebrew speakers today are Israeli Arabs or Arabs under Israeli governance. That’s quite a thought - that there are probably more Arabs who speak Hebrew fluently than there are Jews in the Diaspora who can speak fluent Hebrew! But the great promise to me is that, in hopefully not too many years, Jew and Arab meeting at whatever frontier, or even sans frontiere, will be able to speak to each other in a language that both understand and respect.

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jose (not verified)

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 06:50

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You may take Belgium as an example for what will happen to your hopes.

It is an illusion to believe that separating people inside a nation by tolerating a second official language will bring people together. This is contrary to logic and to known facts. And wishful thinking.

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