Campaigning for Arabic in Public Services

6 May 2021

The Israel Electric Corporation has introduced Arabic language services on its help hotline after pressure from NIF grantee, Sikkuy – The Association for Advancement of Civic Equality.

Israel’s state-owned national utility company has 3 million customers and fields 6.5 million calls on its help hotline each year—from routine consumer queries to vital emergency calls about power outages and even electrocution incidents.

The provision of Arabic services is a basic acknowledgement that the language is a legitimate and integral part of Israel’s social fabric and not the “language of the enemy,” explains Sikkuy. This victory is another small step towards building a shared society. Sikkuy is now pressing the Israel Electric Corporation to add Arabic to its website.

In 2017, Israel’s Knesset passed a Basic Law: Israel the Nation State of the Jewish People, downgrading the Arabic language from its prior status as an “official” state language.

Sikkuy has identified the lack of access to Arabic in the public sphere as a major barrier to equality in Israel, and works to promote equitable access for Arabic-speakers.

“Arabic’s official status should be used as a springboard to create a more democratic and inclusive society which respects and values Arabic language and culture” Sikkuy wrote in its 2014 report on Arabic in the public sphere.