Is Arabic Missing Somewhere?

Doesn’t it make sense for Arabic to appear on street signs, TV, National Security Institute forms, and the various government websites?

We think it is logical, necessary and even essential, but reality proves otherwise:

City buses do not offer announcements in Arabic, the Israel Train’s timetables are not in translated into Arabic and TV shows do not include Arabic subtitles.

We seek to change this reality!

We want to see and hear Arabic in the public space!

Shutafut-Sharakah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s campaign “Also in Arabic”, invites you to participate in Stage Two and assist in mapping the needs of the Arab population.

Please indicate in which of the following places you wish to encounter Arabic:

  1. Public transportation
  2. Government and public authority websites
  3. Street signs
  4. Cultural, music and art[E1] venues
  5. Cultural events, e.g. festivals
  6. In the media and newspapers
  7. Service providers

What action would you be willing to take to advance the presence of Arabic in the public sphere?

  1. I would be happy to participate in the activity towards promoting Arabic in the public space. What does it entail?
  2. Join “Translation Watch” and photograph examples of missing/deficient translations, and post these on Facebook
  3. Send letters and faxes
  4. Share the activity with friends and “like” various posts on Facebook
  5. Attend demonstrations
  6. Suggest a translation when it is missing
  7. Suggest an alternative translation when the existing one is imprecise

Do you have further ideas? Please write to us:

[E1]הייתי מורידה את זה


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Because Arab Citizens Must Be There Too

The refusal of Beitar Jerusalem F.C fans to enable Chechnyan-Muslim players to join the team has stirred a public debate about racism. In truth, one does not need to ascend to Jerusalem in order to find racism. Even Yair Lapid, a resident of north Tel Aviv, has recently announced that he will not be a part of a blocking majority with Haneen Zoabi. The “Zoabis”, as Lapid termed them, represent everything that the Israelis who chose normality should denunciate, and that, as we well-know, is everything non-Jewish, in other words, everything Arab.

The fiery debates on the internet provide an excellent opportunity to tell you about one of the most effective ways in which Shutafut-Sharakah has chosen to address the overall invisibility of Arabs and Arabism in Israel’s public space. In May 2012, we launched an initiative to promote of Arab speakers in conferences. We believe that a normal life in a shared society implies the involvement of all segments in day-to-day life, i.e. in culture, politics, the job market and education. Normality also implies that when we turn on the TV, we see Arabs not only in contexts of crime and warfare. Normality also implies the employment of Arab as well as Jewish lecturers at universities, with fields of expertise other than Arab society. In addition, normality implies that conferences that deal with a diversity of topics would also include attention to the unique aspects of Arab society.

With this vision in mind, we contact conference organizers, ideally within the planning stage, and bring this issue to their attention. It may be surprising, but the response is usually “You are right, it hasn’t occurred to us”. At this stage, we suggest experts from the database we have created and are continuing to expand, with all the details, and ensure that these Arab representatives are indeed invited to speak. In many cases, changes were made to the conference schedule, and the program was changed accordingly. More rarely, we encounter responses such as “There are no Arab experts in the field”, “We wanted to find Arab speakers, but could not find any” or even “They don’t want to participate”. These cases are met with insistence, as we believe it is an essential principal and its implementation affects public awareness. We persevere because we believe it is the right thing to do and are confident that a small change may be a giant step for our society.

We recently celebrated an important achievement – the Sderot Conference and its steering committee were aware of the topic’s importance, but until recently there had been no Arab speakers. Thanks to our efforts and assistance in finding speakers, in the most recent Sderot Conference, that took place in December 2012, there were 25 Arab speakers in the conference. This experience has taught us that the transparency of Arab citizens has become the norm, but whenever the issue is raised, the relevant authorities understand that the present state of affairs is undesirable. We are determined to continue to act to change that norm until it will become unnecessary to bring the issue to the decision makers’ attention.

If you hear of scheduled conferences that include only Jewish speakers, please contact us at


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National Election Commission Materials – Now Also in Arabic

The website was translated into Arabic following Shutafut-Sharakah’s request to the Chairman of the National Election Commission, Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, to include Arabic in all the Commission’s announcements concerning the upcoming elections

Until recently, the website of the General Election Commission for the 19th Knesset, as well as all the announcements made by the Government Advertising Bureau pertaining to the elections and the radio and television voters’ list broadcast, had only been available in Hebrew.

On December 3, Shutafut Sharakah, within its efforts to advance a democratic, egalitarian, and shared society, contacted Judge Rubinstein, bringing to his attention the fact that the website was only available in Hebrew and that various announcements and contents pertaining to the upcoming elections are unavailable in Arabic.

“The official position of Arabic obligates public authorities to treat it with respect and equality, and take the necessary steps to enable Arab citizens live with their language,” asserted Shutafut-Sharakah in its letter to Judge Rubinstein, while also referring to the legal precedence set by Supreme Court of Justice in its verdict to add Arabic to signposting.

The omission of Arabic from the announcements may be interpreted as an expression of the state’s alienation from its Arab citizens, stated the presidents of the various organizations comprising the Shutafut Sharakah coalition. The coalition members further added that the omission encourages the exclusion of approximately 20% of Israel’s citizens from participating in the democratic game, thus impairing “the principle of equality and equal opportunity.”

On December 6, Judge Rubinstein responded that “the significance of Arabic to the texture of life in Israel is unquestionable,” adding that the Election Commission staff was instructed to act accordingly in order to advance the issue. The website was translated into Arabic two weeks after the coalition’s request.

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