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Arabic in Israel

4 photos_2

A pictorial

by Arthur Milner

Five years ago, on a trip to Israel, my rented car was vandalized. Reporting the incident at a Jerusalem police station, I noticed that signs were posted in Hebrew and English, but not in Arabic. I thought that odd. Returning to Israel this past April, camera in hand, I went in search of local signage.

I spent a week in Tel Aviv, and a few days driving through the Galilee (northern Israel). Here, with my annotations, are photographs of what I found. These are accompanied by information about language in Israel, which, except where otherwise noted, is made up of excerpts (lightly edited for brevity) from “Language in Israeli Society and Education,” a 1997 paper by Bernard Spolsky and Elana Shohamy (which may be found at

Spolsky and Shohamy are professors at Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv universities, respectively, and coauthors of The Languages of Israel: Policy, Ideology and Practice (Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 1999). I am grateful for permission to quote at length from their paper.

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About the Author

Arthur Milner
Arthur Milner is Inroads’ culture columnist and a member of its editorial board. He is a former artistic director of Ottawa’s Great Canadian Theatre Company.


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