Thousands Attend Mega Arabic Lesson in Tel Aviv to Protest Nation-state Law

PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity) # 913 August 10th, 2018

Thousands Attend Mega Arabic Lesson in Tel Aviv to Protest Nation-state Law

Organized by a consortium of Israeli civil society organizations, the event was held to protest the controversial nation-state law, passed this month, that downgrades Arabic as one of the country’s official languages.

by Judy Maltz

It was billed the biggest Arabic lesson in the world, and on Monday evening organizers estimated that a few thousand Israelis participated in the mega-event held in one of Tel Aviv’s big city squares.

In addition to learning new words in Arabic, the crowd was treated to performances by Jewish and Arab musicians and artists.

Organized by a consortium of Israeli civil society organization, the event was held to protest the controversial nation-state law, passed by the Knesset this month,that downgrades Arabic as one of the country’s official languages. T-shirts sold at the event had the words “I love Arabic” (in Arabic words, but Hebrew letters) printed on them.

The crowd included Jews and Arabs, including many who had traveled long distances to attend. They repeated basic words and terms in Arabic after the teachers, who delivered their lesson from a central stage, sometimes with translations into in Hebrew, but often not.

Chai Margolis, a 16-year-old from the central Israeli town of Modi’in, had arrived at Habima Square with a group of friends, all active like him in an organization called “Debate4Peace.”

“Personally, I feel you can’t have a democratic nation-state that doesn’t treat minorities as fully equal,” said Margolis, who wore a yarmulke on his head and carried a sign that had the words “Understanding Starts with Talking” printed on it in several different languages.

The event opened with a performance by Miriam Tukan, the first Arab to participate in “Kochav Nolad” – the Israeli equivalent of “American Idol” – and the first to sing in Arabic on the program. She was accompanied on guitar by Idan Toledano, a Jewish musician active in various shared society initiatives.

The opening address was delivered by Sameh Saleimah, an Arab feminist activist from the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom, also known as Wahat as-Salam.

“My mother’s dream was to be a teacher, and today, with the hundreds and thousands of you standing out there, her dream is being realized,” said Saleimah, who urged Arabs and Jews to join forces in fighting the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Among the highlights of the events were several duets sung by Achinoam Nini, a Jewish musician, and Mira Awad, an Arab musician – both of them prominent peace activists who often perform together.

Anat Ben-Yehoshua, who lives in nearby Ramat Gan, said she was simply happy that an event of this kind could take place and that she could part of it. “Things have become so depressing here with this government that something like this provides hope,” she said, holding her dog by his leash.

The sponsoring organizations were the New Israel Fund, the Abraham Fund Initiatives, Sikkuy, Givat Haviva, Yad b’Yad (a network of Jewish-Arab schools around Israel), Omdim b’Yachad (a relatively new non-profit that, like the others, supports shared society in Israel) and Neve Shalom.

Edan Ring, the director of public affairs for Sikkuy, said the turnout proved to him that “there is a big public out there whose voice is not being heard.”

“These are people,” he added, “who see Arabic as a cultural treasure rather than a threat, as some of our politicians do. It is truly sad that we have come to this, that speaking Arabic in the center of Tel Aviv is today seen as something subversive.”

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive directive of Abraham Fund Initiatives, said the many Israelis who had come to participate “understand that we are at a critical junction – either we choose Apartheid or we choose inclusion.”

These Israelis, he said, “understand the importance of the Arabic language and are not going to give up on it.”

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Thank you - and may I share my dream?

Thank you - and may I share my dream?

A huge thank you to everyone who gave in the Global Giving Bonus Day competition today, many thanks to all for your patience with my and my team's many messages, and many thanks to RA's team for their persistence and creativity! We raised $11,667 from 78 donors for the US Movement to Save Palestinian Villages.  Our program placed fourth in a field of 545 projects, and we came in 9th by by total donations. Four people became recurring donors (that really helps!) Altogether, there's just enough to move forward.

Click Here to donate Wednesday

Click Here to donate Wednesday

On Wednesday, GlobalGiving will be matching your donation by 50%, up to $1000. Please CLICK HERE to give, after 9am EDT / 8am CDT / 7am MDT / 6am PDT

Our goal is to send five children and their parents to present their Pinwheels for Peace to Congress for International Peace Day. The children's speeches on International Peace Day have been the most effective advocacy we've seen of the over 300 briefings with Congressional staff, in person & over the phone, that Rebuilding Alliance has held on this issue. We've brought children from Susiya & neighboring Umm al Kheir to speak to Congress three times with their visions of peace, we've brought experts to meet with the State Dept. and the NSC, & we've shared what we learned with sister organizations to keep villages standing.

Deep breath! Court will hold hearing on Khan al Ahmar’s petition — advocacy needed now

Deep breath! Court will hold hearing on Khan al Ahmar’s petition — advocacy needed now

Khan al Ahmar is standing and 174 children will start their school year on July 16th as scheduled. Yesterday, Thursday, July 12th, Israel's High Court of Justice responded to the petition filed by the village, providing notice to hold "a hearing, not later than August 15th."

The injunction against demolition is extended until their case is heard — but the lawyers for the Government of Israel are moving fast, pressing a hearing date soon because all is ready for demolition.

Invite your Senators and Congressperson to visit to Khan Al Ahmar

In front of Congr Walden's office.jpg

Eid Jahalin from the Palestinian Bedouin Village of Khan Al Ahmar joined Rebuilding Alliance's team to walk the halls of Congress to keep Eid's village standing

Just as demolition bulldozers were about to roll into Khan al Ahmar, the High Court of Israel issued a last-minute injunction against demolition, requiring the State of Israel to respond to the village's own master plan by July 11th. This gives us more time. Since the US Consulate in Jerusalem is in transition, the strongest way to signal American concern right now is to ask your Members of Congress to visit the village of Khan Al Amar.

Email your Senators and Representative to urge them to go there now

Rep. Jackie Speier met our delegation last week and said, 'When Congress visited the border, it changed everything. We need to visit Khan al Ahmar.'   A key Republican advised us to make it a bi-partisan delegation.


Per Ethics Committee rules, they must file forms before Wed July 10th — I turn to YOU. 

  • Step 1:  Please click here to email your Senators and Representative
  • Step 2: Call them on Friday morning at their local office (you'll have to look it up - they are home this week for the July 4th holiday) and their DC office Monday morning, Call Representative Anna G. Eshoo at (202) 225-8104, Senator Kamala D. Harris at (202) 224-3553, and Senator Dianne Feinstein at (202) 224-3841.
  • Step 3:  Reach out to a friend in Red state or district. Ask your friend to invite their Senators and Representative too, and send them this link to use for their message:  

Here’s what to say when you call:

·     I am a Constituent calling with an urgent request. I ask Senator ______ or Congresswoman/Congressman_________ to travel to Jerusalem in August to personally visit the Palestinian Bedouin Village of Al Khan al Ahmar, or give permission for their staff to go.

·     Rebuilding Alliance, a U.S. Nonprofit, is sponsoring the trip and they've done this befoe. They will provide a detailed agenda. Please note: Ethics Committee applications are due by end of day Tuesday, July 10th

·     The trip starts on Thu August 9th. Due to their shortened Senate recess, Senators and Senate staff will have a 4 day trip, returning by Monday morning, and House Members and staff will have a full 7 day trip. Senate returns on Sun Aug 12, House returns on Wed Aug 15.

Ok, let's begin. Click here to invite your Senators and Representative. Questions? Suggestions? Tamsin and I are standing by - call us at 650 651-7165.


P.S. Things have been moving really fast. Here's what I'm seeing: 

The Tyre School and all Khan Ahmar's homes are standing, however the Israeli Army attacked the peaceful leadership of Al Khan Al Ahmar on July 4th.

At dawn, the Israeli Army brought bulldozers to the edge of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al Khan al Ahmar; they stated that they were there to pave access roads to facilitate the upcoming forced evacuation. Leaving behind the bulldozers, they temporarily left — after which, and a few kilometers away, the Israeli Army demolished eight Palestinian homes in nearby Abu Nuwar. Upon their return, the soldiers stood saying nothing, while villagers and visitors tried to engage them with questions. Caught on this video, the soldiers suddenly attacked them without provocation — and three villagers were hospitalized, while 10 were handcuffed and arrested. 

Concurrently, the Israeli Army entered Susiya last night at 11pm to photograph the seven homes slated for imminent demolition — taking pictures is a prerequisite to imminent demolition... And today in Al Khan Al Ahmar, the Israeli Army returned, arrested 3 more people, and continues preparing three roads leading into the village for demolition access. 

P.P.S. If you or someone you know would like to accompany your Congressional office on this trip, please complete this application form and provide your resume and three references in reply to this email.


Feed Gaza's Families

We ask you to help Gaza’s families break their fast during Ramadan. 

Please donate now.  Our NGO partners, the Women’s Program Center in Rafah-Gaza and the Youth Vision Society in Gaza Beach Camp, have identified families in dire need and sought bids to purchase food. They are buying in bulk, providing $50 worth of food to each family to provide nourishing Iftar dinners during Ramadan.

Summary of Al Khan Al Ahmar High Court Hearing on April 25, 2018

Adv. Shlomo Lecker, summarises Al Khan al Ahmar High Court hearing of 25.4.18, which heard:

  • Kfar Adumim, Nofei Prat and Alon settlers’ petition to demolish the local school

  • A petition by the village against demolition and forced relocation

  • A petition by parents of the pupils against demolition of the school and

  • A request by 15 settlers from Kfar Adumim demanding a “peaceful solution“ to take the rights and voice of the Bedouin into consideration.

ACTION for GAZA: Email Congress NOW — and we'll put Gazans on the phone briefing

In this time of crisis, I am writing to ask for your urgent action:


Gazans are standing by to join teleconference briefings with Congressional staff — As soon as you and two more from your district send your email, our team at Rebuilding Alliance will schedule the briefings and invite you to join the calls.

Solar Replaces Candlelight for Gaza Family, Bringing Peace to a Mother’s Heart

When you live mired in poverty, every detail of daily life is a challenge. Abeer and Salah al-Akharsah, along with their seven children (and an eighth on the way), live in a remote area of the Gaza Strip—Eraiba, northwest of Rafah. Salah, 41, used to earn a decent income as a trader of goods transported through the tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt.

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Over the past 10 years, three wars waged on the Gaza Strip have had devastating effects on the population of 2 million in both large and small ways. Since the first war in 2008/09, says Hedaya Abu Lehia, a technician assistant at the El-Amal Audiology Clinic, Gaza has seen a 30 percent increase in hearing impairment. The reason, she reports, is the exposure to loud explosions.