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Education for a Better World
Israelis to Study Arabic Starting at Age 6?
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  • Studying Arabic seems to be a curious trend in Israel today, which I’ve noticed both at work and in numerous ads for Arabic language courses (I live in Tel Aviv). Arabic is a very difficult language to learn, but I believe it’s worth the effort both on an individual and national level – both in peace and war we would benefit from an increased understanding of our neighbors. I myself applied to a beginner’s course in spoken Arabic (Palestinian dialect) today.

    • Corlyss

      Preparing for the inevitable? Better to get a visa to US.

      • For the inevitable what exactly? I think I catch your drift, yet you’re mistaken if you believe that Israel isn’t as strong and resilient as ever – in fact the opposite is true.

        • Ellen

          Right, and many Arabs are now studying Hebrew both in the West Bank, Gaza and even Jordan. They are the ones who are recognizing the reality. The reality is sad for them (excuse my crocodile tears), and that is that Israel is the economic and technological power of the region and is destined to become even more dominant in the future than it is now. Saudi Arabia is headed for bankruptcy probably, and economic decline definitely. Who will pick up the slack as a provider of jobs and investment in the “neighborhood” if not Israeli Jews. Learning Hebrew will become an asset in the surrounding Arabic and Kurdish (and Turkish) speaking world, over the next 10-20 years.

      • Fat_Man

        Muslim Arab civilization has entered a state of terminal collapse. There will be nobody to challenge Israel. Jordan can survive because Israel will maintain it as a buffer state. Egypt has a historic and geographic unity, but it is affected by the collapse and will limp along with the assistance of Israel. The Palestinians choices are to be good or be gone.

        • Ellen

          “The Palestinians choices are to be good or be gone.”

          Finally, a clairvoyant individual who sees the writing on the wall and openly states the realistic choices available to the Palestinian Arabs. This has been true since the 1980’s when Ariel Sharon said, We will offer them (the Palestinians) peace for peace, and nothing more. Recall that at that time, the settler population in the West Bank was 45,000 Jews and the State of Israel as a whole had only 3.5 million Jews. Today, there are 6.7 million Jews in Israel with 400,000 in Judea and Samaria. Land for peace is a nonstarter, and always was.

          The political and economic future of the Palestinians, if they have one at all, is in Jordan under a Hashemite monarchy. They would do well to support the Hashemites, because the alternative for them is not the PLO or Hamas, but rather a vindictive and tribal dictatorship of the beduin tribes in Jordan.

          • Fat_Man

            “a vindictive and tribal dictatorship of the beduin tribes in Jordan.”

            More likely ISIS.

        • Tom

          Don’t bury it just yet. As long as the world runs on fossil fuels, the Saudis will be there to prop it up.

          • Fat_Man

            Saudi Arabia is not a nation state as westerners understand it. It is the apanage of a family. Royal families can and do fall apart. The best English language source for understanding Saudi Arabia are the plays of Shakespeare.

            “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene I

            “For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings;” Richard II, Act 3, Scene 2:

    • Fat_Man

      I can understand why Arabic is difficult for an English speaker, but is it that difficult for a native Hebrew speaker? Both Arabic and Hebrew are West Semitic languages. They have similar abjads (consonantal alphabets). They have a lot of cognate words, e.g. shalom salaam.

      • It’s certainly easier if you know Hebrew, but I was mostly thinking about how spoken Arabic differs from written Arabic and how “media” Arabic is a sort of a mix between the two. Not to speak of all the dialects, where an Egyptian might have a hard time understanding the Arabic of the Gulf etc.

  • Corlyss

    Are Palestinians being forced to learn Hebrew? Bet not.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Actually many (not all by any means, but many) know at least some Hebrew or English…they pretty well have to if they expect to work.

  • Ofer Imanuel

    One correction to the article. English has been mandatory to study (for 8 years in my time; at least 9 now) in school, and is a mandatory part if you want to pass matriculation exams.

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