The Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday approved for legislation a new law that would require children to study Arabic in elementary grades, starting with first grade. The law was proposed by MK Oren Hazan (Likud), and it will be introduced for its first reading in the coming weeks.
Hazan, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, said that the proposal, authored by himself and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, was “especially appropriate during these days of increased terror. This is the government's message towards the pursuit of coexistence and towards the restoration of calm.
“It is exactly at this time that we must reduce the tensions and build a bridge of language, culture, and understanding between all citizens,” said Hazan. “This law will help us all better understand the culture, mentality, and temperament of a million and a half of Israel's citizens, and make for closer relations and greater understanding between all. This will also help us better understand the hundreds of millions of Arabic speakers in this region as well.”
The details of the law have yet to be worked out, but Hazan said that it would entail teaching spoken Arabic to children from first grade on, and proceed with reading and writing lessons in later grades.
According to Hazan, if the Jewish population learns Arabic in the same way that the Arab population learns Hebrew, “we will also see much better days.”