Language as a Bridge: Arabic studies in public schools and p...

Language as a Bridge: Arabic studies in public schools and prevalence on campus

Sep 9, 2015 12:00pm

Arabic is a required subject in Israel's Hebrew-language public schools, yet few Jewish Israeli's emerge from high school prepared for meaningful Arabic conversation. Likewise, Arab students report that the lack of representation of Arabic on college and university campuses furthers a sense of cultural and linguistic separateness.

Recently, new attention is being placed on how language, more than a pragmatic tool, can be a vehicle for promoting greater familiarity across cultures and breaking stereotypes. Join Yonatan Mendel, Head of Manarat: The Van Leer Center for Jewish-Arab Relations, and Thair Abu Ras, researcher and co-author of the Status of Arabic on Israeli Campuses, for a discussion of how language inclusion and instruction can be a platform for building a more shared society.


Join us for an insightful discussion.

Event Details:
Wednesday, Sept. 9th - 12:00 PM ET
Conference call and webinar options available.
Call and login instructions provided upon RSVP.

Please RSVP to [email protected]


This webinar is part of our series on Arab Citizens in the Public Sphere. Click to learn more.

About the speakers:

Dr. Yonatan Mendel is the Head of Manrat, the Center for Jewish-Arab Relations at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. He is also a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Research Associate at the Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Mendel is a an Israeli sociolinguist whose research centers on the status of the Arabic language within Israeli society. He is a regular contributor to publications in Hebrew (including Haaretz, the Forum for Regional Thinking, Local Call, and more). Mendel is also a regular contributor to the London Review of Books, as well as to publications in Arabic (most famously: Al-Mash'had al-Isra'ili published by Madar Centre in Ramalla). His latest book The Creation of Israeli Arabic sheds light on a unique corner of the Arab–Israeli conflict: the study and knowledge of Arabic in Jewish-Israeli society. The book explores how security considerations have shaped the study of the Arabic language and of Arab people in Israeli society. Based on research conducted in seven archives in Israel, the book uncovers a new 'type' of Arabic created in Israel passive and securitised. The book is based on the doctoral studies he conducted at Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Yasir Suleiman, the head of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. Since earning his degree, Mendel lives in Tel Aviv and dedicates much of his time to academic research on Arabic in Israel (including the history of Arabic language studies in Jewish schools) as well as to projects aiming to promote the place of Arabic in Israeli public sphere, academic institutions, and more.

Thair Abu Ras is a PhD student for Political Science at Houston University, Texas, on a Fulbright Scholarship. Thair has been involved for many years in issues related to civic equality for the Arab community in Israel. Among other things Thair worked as Deputy Director of the International Department at Mossawa Center, was an Assistant Project Director for a Twinning Project in the EU dealing with enhancing employment of weakened minority groups in Israel and, between 2012-2014 acted as Director of a project on Equal Representation in Employment for Arab Society, at Sikkuy. Thair hold a BA in Political Science and Communications from Haifa University and an MA (cum laude) in Governance and Political Thought from Haifa University.