Political and Security Considerations in the Making of Arabic Language Studies in Israel
An evening discussion (in Hebrew) marking the publication of Yoni Mendel’s book
The book deals with the modern history of Arabic language instruction in Jewish schools in Israel and the changes in that field over time. The author discusses the gradual increase in security and political considerations in the teaching of Arabic and how this led to the “creation” of a language that distances people instead of bringing them closer together. Drawing on comprehensive archival research, the book reveals how Arabic language instruction in Jewish schools in Israel was shaped, in a process that began in the 1930s, continued after the establishment of the state in 1948, reached new heights after the Six Day War in 1967, and became even more intense after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. This process involved the penetration of political and security considerations into the teaching of Arabic in the education system and in independent institutions, in the Education Ministry bodies that supervises the teaching of Arabic, and among the government’s decision-makers. Thus Mendel shows how Arabic was despoiled of its positive contexts—practical, Jewish, regional, and cultural—and took on security, intelligence, and political attributes as it was being transformed into a field for Jews only.
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)