Tony Greenstein | 05 December 2016 | Post Views:

it took were a few  complaints for the Government’s
Transportation Minister
Katz to act

A bus going to Be’er Sheva stops in the Bedouin town of Hura, August 4, 2016. Eliyahu Hershkovitz

In Israel
Arabic is officially a language alongside Hebrew.  However like all things in Israel, equality
is more a matter of public relations than actuality.  When the Mayor of Be’er Sheva Rubik
Danilovich asked Transportation Minister Katz to ban announcements in Arabic,
he was more than willing to comply.

Illustrative photo of a Dan bus. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
You see Israel
is a Jewish state and what can be more natural than to ban announcements that
aren’t in Hebrew?  This comes hot on the
heels of government legislation to ban the use of loud speakers in the Muslim
call to prayer.  This was classified as ‘noise
pollution’.  You will be happy to know
that the fears of Orthodox Jews that this could also be used to ban similar announcements
by Jewish religious authorities were soon allayed.  The bill made a specific exception for
announcements for the Jewish religion!
It’s interesting that Breibart News, the far-Right news site associated with the Alt-Right and Trump’s government covered this under the heading Israeli Bus Company Suspends Arabic-Language Announcements Amid Complaints
conduct of the Transportation Ministry and Be’er Sheva’s mayor creates a
dangerous precedent, whereby the writers of a few posts are given the power to
withhold other citizens’ basic rights.
Editorial Dec 01, 2016 1:28 AM
An Israeli bus company has removed Arabic from its buses in a southern city following public pressure [File: Ammar Awad/Reuters]
Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich is extremely sensitive to the needs of his city’s
Jewish residents. When a few of them wished to see a halt to the use of Arabic
announcements on the Dan company’s Be’er Sheva bus lines, Danilovich quickly
implored the Transportation Ministry to remove the offending “hazard.” The
Transportation Ministry, headed by MK Yisrael Katz, willingly complied and
ordered the bus company to cease using Arabic-language announcements.
It took
just one week, since this bus company began operating in the city, for Be’er
Sheva residents, the mayor and the Transportation Ministry to erect a dam to
keep Arabic out of the city’s public space. All it took was a few angry posts
from residents – “As far as I know, Be’er Sheva is not an Arab city;” “It looks
like I’m living in Hebron,” and others – to spur the mayor to action.
Danilovich’s explanation: “When bilingual announcements are implemented
throughout the country, they will also be implemented in Be’er Sheva.”
Al-Omeri mosque in Lod,
Israel, a city of Arabs and Jews. A proposal backed by Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu would authorize the government to ban the use of
loudspeakers by mosques and other houses of worship across the country.

Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times        

Sheva, a metropolitan center for tens of thousands of Arab citizens, is not
keen to serve as an example for other cities. The Arab citizens who live in and
around the city will continue to “enjoy” the status of tourists who aren’t
entitled to announcements in their language, which is also an official state
problem with the conduct of the Transportation Ministry and Be’er Sheva’s mayor
isn’t just that it removes an important aid for Arab citizens who use the
city’s public transportation. It also creates a dangerous precedent, whereby
the writers of a few posts are given the power to withhold other citizens’
basic rights. This is certainly a basic right, also considering that some of
this population is not literate and is not adequately served by the written
signs in Arabic.
this precedent is a warning signal to all public transportation companies that
dare consider introducing Arabic announcements on their buses. The position
taken by the Transportation Ministry — that signs and announcements in Arabic
will be implemented in locales where more than half of the residents are
Arabic-speakers, is also unacceptable. Arab citizens also use bus lines outside
of Arab areas.
stance shows that the Minister Katz and the Transportation Ministry are trying
to circumvent the law concerning the status of the Arabic language, and in so
doing serve as an example to other government ministries. The position taken by
Mayor Danilovich, who takes pride in his activity on behalf of the Bedouin in
the Negev, is also disappointing. This wrongheaded policy should be immediately
reversed. The Transportation Ministry should rescind its directive to the Dan
Be’er Sheva bus company, and Be’er Sheva’s mayor should restore the Arabic
language to the city’s buses

bus company bows to pressure, drops announcements in Arabic
in Israel decry removal of Arabic on buses

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