In show of solidarity: Jewish students to speak Arabic on Je...
In show of solidarity: Jewish students to speak Arabic on Jerusalem trains
In a bid to show solidarity with the Arab community in Jerusalem amid rising violent incidents towards the minority in the city, around 150 Jewish high school students, who have been studying Arabic, will make a point of speaking Arabic on public transportation. The event is being organized by Tag Meir, an NGO that focuses on fighting hate crimes in Israel, and the Center for Educational Technology (CET), a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of Israel’s education system.
After the students disembark from the light rail, they will attend an official ceremony held in Hebrew and Arabic at Mount Herzl, with representatives of the Education Ministry in attendance. According to Merav Livneh-Dill, Jewish Pluralism Coordinator at Shatil and secretariat member of Tag Meir, “The goal is to allow Arabic to exist in the public sphere and legitimize those who want to speak it but are afraid to do so”. The students will be wearing T-shirts with a slogan reading “Yallah (C’mon), let’s speak Arabic in Jerusalem.”
To reach more participants, the organizers created a Facebook event where videos of Jewish Arabic speakers will be uploaded ahead of the ride. Livneh-Dill asked the volunteers — including Israeli writer Almog Behar and Hebrew University professor Hillel Cohen — to read a poem or quote a saying in Arabic, and then explain its meaning in Hebrew.
Tag Meir and CET are hoping that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and President Reuven Rivlin will attend the closing ceremony. Livneh-Dill stressed that “It’s important for people like the mayor to send a message to residents that they should feel free and good to speak Arabic, and will receive public backing to do so”.