About thirty Arab school principals walked out on a high-profile official event last week when the national anthem, HaTikvah, was sung. The walkout occurred Wednesday at a convention of all the school principals and supervisors in the Jerusalem district, in the presence of Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar. The convention was held in Jerusalem's Sciences and Arts School, to discuss the upcoming school year.
The meet ended at 2:00 P.M. in the customary way, with all those attending standing up to sing the national anthem. As they began singing the song of Jewish yearning to Israel, the educators were stunned to see Arab principals of both sexes walking out through the exits in a demonstrative fashion. All of the principals are state employees who preside over state-funded schools.
Meanwhile, Minister Sa'ar has announced that study of the Arabic language will become mandatory in elementary schools in the Northern and Haifa Districts. A program for teaching Arabic in the fifth and sixth grades will be initially implemented in 132 secular elementary schools and 42 religious-Zionist ones.
Ministry officials said that teaching Arabic will contribute to coexistence between Jews and Arabs.
Nationalist activist Baruch Marzel slammed the decision and warned that it would lead to an increase in intermarriage. MK Hanin Zouabi (Balad) expressed her support for the move.
The city of Efrat in Gush Etzion , located 15 miutes south of Jerusalem in Judea, has also decided to begin teaching Arabic in its elementary schools. The original plan called for Arabs from neighboring villages to be employed as teachers, but Arabs refused to cooperate with it.
While the teaching of Arabic is seen as a vehicle for “coexistence” by leftists, it is also seen by some nationalists as being important for security, by enabling Jews to understand what their enemies say. Many of Israel's intelligence officers studied Arabic in school.