Who is Afraid of Language Rights in Israel?
Carmel Academic Center - Law School; University of Toronto
September 2, 2009
THE MULTICULTURAL CHALLENGE IN ISRAEL, pp. 26-51, Ohad Nachtomy and Avi Sagi eds., Academic Studies Press, 2009
Granting language rights to Israeli Arabs is wrongly perceived as a controversial political matter, from which Israeli courts should abstain. I attribute this perception to four distinctive dimensions of language rights that make them be commonly perceived as threatening the Jewish-Zionist character of Israel. I argue that this fear is unjustified.
The first dimension is their positive dimension, requiring the state not only to merely grant Arabs the right to speak Arabic, but to also to actively support Arabic. The second dimension is their selective nature, requiring the state to privilege the Arab minority over other linguistic minorities in Israel, such as the Russian Jewish minority. The third dimension is their public dimension, requiring that Arabic be visible in Israeli linguistic landscape. The fourth dimension is their collective nature, which brings to mind other allegedly collective rights such as the right of return and Israeli Arabs’ right to self determination.
However, I argue that this approach is unjustified, since many other legally recognized rights that protect Israeli Arabs’ interests involve one of these dimensions. Only because language rights may simultaneously bear more than one dimension, are they perceived as threatening. However, the difference between language rights and other well-acknowledged minority rights in Israel is a difference in degree and not type. Courts should therefore not leave language rights to the political system, but rather address them like every other right in Israel.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 13
Keywords: Official language, language rights, Arabic, Israel, MulticulturalismAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 3, 2012
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This page was processed by apollo7 in 0.297 seconds