Yonatan Mendel on Arabic in Israel
8 April 2015
Yonatan Mendel, Research associate University of Cambridge; and post-doctoral researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is an Israeli linguist whose research centres on the status of the Arabic language within Israeli society. He is also a regular contributor to the LRB, most recently with a Diary piece on Israel’s March election. His latest book The Creation of Israeli Arabic sheds light on a unique corner of the Arab–Israeli conflict: the study and knowledge of Arabic in Jewish-Israeli society. The book explores how security considerations have shaped the study of the Arabic language and of Arab people in Israeli society. Based on research conducted in seven archives in Israel, the book uncovers a new ‘type’ of Arabic created in Israel ̶ passive and securitised. This ‘Israeli Arabic’ has enabled its users to observe the Arab world but not to interact with Arab people in general and with Palestinian citizens of Israel in particular. In their discussion of his book and the ideas surrounding it Dr. Mendel and Professor Yasir Suleiman (head of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge) will provide an unusual view of the Arab-Israeli conflict: through the lens of language studies.
The event will take place
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Yonatan Mendel, Research Fellow, also discusses the forthcoming Israeli Elections in the London Review of Books
What else can be said about a country whose electoral options run from bad to worse, from xenophobia to all-out racism? There are, I believe, three main blocs. The first wishes to maintain the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in its current form, preferably with no negotiations, in a liminal situation between cold and open war. The second wishes to dance with the conflict – to negotiate and negotiate as if there were no tomorrow. For the third bloc, there is no conflict at all: the elections are about VAT, the middle class and ‘what it means to be Israeli’.