Thousands of Jews and Arabs took part in a mass Arabic-language class at the Habima Square in Tel Aviv on Monday evening, July 30, to protest against the racist Nation-State Law, which assigns the Arabic language a “special status” in Israel, demoting it from its previous status as an official one.
During the event, a number of short lessons were given on Arabic phrases and words. Famous artists also sang Arabic and Hebrew songs. The head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), was among the participants, repeating after the teacher basic Arabic phrases.
The noted performers Mira Awad and Achinoam Nini also sang during the event, which featured a mixture of Hebrew, Arabic and English songs. The initiative was a joint effort by a coalition of organizations whose mission is to work toward a shared society: the Abraham Fund, Standing Together, Givat Haviva, Sikkuy and Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel.
The director of public affairs at Sikkuy, Edan Ring, told The Jerusalem Post that since the racist law was passed last week by the Knesset there is increased interest in learning Arabic in Tel Aviv.
“It is happening today – say ‘No’ to the Nation-State Law. Come to the square for the biggest Arabic lesson in the world!” Sikkuy wrote in a post on social media towards the event. “We must not allow the Nation-State Law to pass quietly; we must oppose it and build an alternative – a truly shared and egalitarian society. In the face of the discriminatory and racist law, we will stand together tonight, Jewish and Arab citizens… come and raise your voice! Let us say ‘No’ to the Nation-State Law and ‘Yes’ to equality and Jewish-Arab partnership!”