Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin explained, Friday, why he signed a petition by Member of Knesset Issawi Farij (Meretz), which calls for study of the Arabic language in schools not to be reduced, as planned by Education Minister Shai Piron. Against the backdrop of his father's translation of the Quran and 1001 Arabian Nights and his own proficiency in the language, he said the real reason is that "We are living in an environment in which the Arabs living among us speak our language and we Jews don't speak theirs."
Recalling the coexistence in Jerusalem's Shimon Hatzaddik (Sheikh Jarach) neighborhood in the 1940's, based on Jews and Arabs understanding each other's language, the Likud lawmaker said, "That's how we should live today. Alienation from the Arabic language expresses alienation from the environment in which we live." Calling for expansion of Arabic language studies, he concluded, "The basis for any agreement and understanding between peoples is [a] common language."