Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 19:47 pm (KSA) 16:47 pm (GMT)

New Israeli language mixes Arabic and Hebrew

In some Israeli towns 60 percent of people use Arabic and only 30 percent Hebrew (File)
In some Israeli towns 60 percent of people use Arabic and only 30 percent Hebrew (File)

Put alot of Hebrew and some Arabic in a blender and mix them together and you get the new lingo that is currently spoken by some in Israel, which has sparked protests that the government is trying to erase Arab identity in the Jewish state.

The new hybrid language, three quarters Hebrew and one quarter Arabic, is still only spoken by a minority but this does not make it any less of an attempt to "Judaize" the Palestinians, Mohamed Imara, a lecturer at a Palestinian research center, told Al Arabiya.

 Palestinians inside Israel have always resisted Judaization and Hebraization. They have to insist on preserving their identity and not giving in to Israeli set-ups 
Mohamed Imara-- Palestinian lecturer

The government prefers the new Arabic-Hebrew mix and "unfortunately, some Arab Israelis use the new language. But they are not a majority yet," Imara said, adding that this does not mean the phenomenon should be overlooked or treated as insignificant.

"Palestinians inside Israel have always resisted Judaization and Hebraization. They have to insist on preserving their identity and not giving in to Israeli set-ups," he said.

Judaization policies

 Even Arabic syllabi are saturated with Jewish and Zionist values. Until the end of the 1970s, Arab students learnt about Judaism and Zionism and nothing about Arabs and Palestinians. Now some changes have taken place but it is still not enough 
Imara

In some circumstances Hebrew is used more than Arabic and there are some Hebrew expressions that cannot be translated into Arabic, meaning Arab Israelis resort to speaking Hebrew.

According to the preliminary results of a research Imara is currently conducting, shop signs are a major factor influencing Arabs in Israel to speak Hebrew but the study finds the situation differs from one town to another.

"In some Israeli towns 60 percent of people speak Arabic, 30 percent Hebrew and 10 percent English. In other towns, it is the other way round and Hebrew is dominant. A new pattern has emerged where the English language is starting to gain ground and in some areas the percentage reached 35."

School education has proved to be fertile soil for Israel to implement its Judaization policies. Imara said.

"Even Arabic syllabi are saturated with Jewish and Zionist values. Until the end of the 1970s, Arab students learnt about Judaism and Zionism and nothing about Arabs and Palestinians. Now some changes have taken place but it is still not enough."

As a result of Judaization several intellectuals have issued booklets with a list of Arabic names and expressions that have been subject to Hebraization and have had their Arab origins disguised.

Keep Arabic alive

 We are saying that we are here and we have our own culture. Although Israelis try to absorb as much as they can of Western culture and ignore the East, the Arabic language still has a strong influence 
Imara

The lecturer said all was not lost yet and said that the Arabic language was still being kept alive by religion, namely Islam as the Quran is written in Arabic, and national awareness.

Imara also lauded the significant role played by Arab satellite channels in keeping Palestinians inside Israel in touch with their roots and.

"Our youths appear on Arab satellite channels and express themselves in a good language and this is a good change. Before that, Arabs spent hours watching Israeli channels, but now they watch Arab channels. They listen to more Arabic and know more about the Arab world."

Imara also spoke about the situation being reversed and said Jews were starting to use Arabic in their everyday lives and on television, which the lecturer said he believed was because Arab-Israelis were starting to gain ground.

"We are saying that we are here and we have our own culture. Although Israelis try to absorb as much as they can of Western culture and ignore the East, the Arabic language still has a strong influence," he concluded.


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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