Thursday, August 27, 2009

Signs Sans Hebrew, Not New

A couple of years ago, on the anniversary of when I was injured in a terror attack by an Arab terrorist, I went to the stop it happened. It's in Jerusalem, at the junction of French Hill and the Begin Highway going south. It's the corner going towards the Atarot airport and industrial zone. When it happened it was the road home to Shiloh passing Neve Yaakov. Now we travel on a new road and our bus stop has moved.

It took a lot of guts for me to go there. Not because I'm phobic, but because it's now an Arab-only bus stop, yes in Jerusalem. And the signs had no Hebrew, just Arabic and maybe English. All I noticed was the lack of Hebrew.

So the big announcement that the United States is funding new new signs in Judea and Samaria sans Hebrew isn't terribly surprising. Why hasn't anyone protested the sans Hebrew signs in Jerusalem?


Esser Agaroth said...


So, it makes our word to erase the English and Arabic from the signs in Yo"Sh all the more crucial.

Netivotgirl said...

Dreadful! But in a way we are to blame. Why? I read a thought provoking letter in a back issue of Mishpacha magazine. In response to a reporter's blasting American Jews for abandoning Israel in favor of voting for Obama, someone pointed out an important fact: In the 1970's R'Meir Kahane said we in Israel are too dependent on America. We're like a drug addict in need of a fix. (American $ and military aid.) He said we MUST become independent.

We didn't. The result? WE have to get U.S. permission to start a campaign (Cast Lead) or to bomb Iran's atomic installations so to protect our citizens.

That same letter mentioned that Israel has lost its p.r. battle to win over liberal non-zionist/unaffiliated Jews. He said he knows Jews who became pro-Arab by watching CNN and other anti-Israel stations subjective reporting during Cast Lead. Depressing to say the least! We are our own worst enemy as a people, sadly.

It is absurd and sickening. We as a nation behave as the USA's 51st state. This means that we, Israel's zionist Jews (yes, I live in a Charedi neighborhood but YES I sure the dickens am a zionist) must do as much as possible to sign petitions; demonstrate; etc. for Jewish/ zionist causes here.

May the coming year bring Gilad Shalit AND Moshiach home!

Anonymous said...

i am so with you on this. all signs in israel -- or at least signs owned and operated or managed by the state of israel, should be in all 3 languages. hebrew, well, because its israel; english at the very least because of tourism and its the international language, and arabic because it, like hebrew, is by law the second national language. [i am sure i will be corrected if i am wrong about this.]

i am mostly with kahane on his point, though i think that given that the us is an empire of sorts, israel, like much of the rest of the west, is beholden to it regardless.

Esser Agaroth said...

Who gives a rat's tuchus about the U. S.?


Jews are only going to make it to Yo"Sh on a bullet proof bus with a driver telling you where to get off, with a tour guide, or with residents or Israelis to guide them anyway.

Christians have NO business there, and the English only helps the UN and leftists.

Other parts of Israel will have English when we decide there should be English.

Arabs can pay for their own damn signs. ...and WE can creatively redecorate them.

Anonymous said...

by: i see no benefit in engaging in vandalism. and as long as arabic is an official language of israel, all official documents must be written in arabic as well.
we live in a global village these days, and the us is the biggest player, like it or not. we need to learn to play well with others. this does not, of course, mean doing whatever they want.
tourism is important; why do you belittle it?
i dunno, i have relatives -- right wing jews -- who are helped by english street signs.

Batya said...

BY, Netivotgirl, a, the bottom line is that we are to blame. That US backed group has no right to take down official signs, but when our Jerusalem municipality puts up sans Hebrew signs they've established a horrendous precent. and when the Israeli Election judges accept votes from Arab towns and cities that don't allow Jews as inspectors
and don't follow up complaints
of cheating, our successive Israeli governments have made a farce out of our independence.

Esser Agaroth said...

Anon, If you're Jewish, let me be perfectly clear.

The Law of the Land of Israel is the Torah, and takes precedence over Israeli law when there is a conflict between the two, which there often is.

That you recognize that Arabic is an official language of Israel, simply because the State says so is an excellent example of the Galuthi {diaspora} mentality of Jews that we in Israel are hampered by. It is also an excellent example of how Jews in Galuth have come to confuse Western thinking and sensibilities with Jewish thinking and sensibilities over the past 2000 years, particularly the past 500 years.

There are NOT one and the same.

We have a misswah lo ta'aseh {negative commandment} "Lo Tehonem." {Deut. 7} We must not do anything to make it easy for prohibited goyim to stay here. This misswah includes not allowing them to purchase land, etc.

You used the word "vandalism." I did not. You don't know what I have in mind. It is a great shame that you would see it that way, yet another example of cultural confusion on the part of those Jews outside of the Land.

Helping English speakers? As an educator from California and now here in Israel, it is my personal belief that immersion is the most effective approach for learning a second language. Thus the removal of such offensive English signs would be of great benefit to such residents.

One final note: There is no such thing as right and left wing, only Jewish and un-Jewish.

Which one are you?

Batya said...

ya'aqov, good answer

Keli Ata said...

B'H that you survived Batya and can bear witness to Islamic terrorism. I think every victim should speak out as a witness.

You're very brave to return to the scene.

As for the signs--they should, for the moment, be in Hebrew and Arabic only.

Hebrew because it's the official language of the Jewish state. Jews making aliyah will eventually have to learn Hebrew and it's not practical for the government to have signs in every language of the world.

Arabic I think because there is a large Arab population. But the Arabic should be in smaller script.

It would be like Canada, in which both English and French are the official languages and signs are in both languages (though in Montreal the push is for French only signs).

As for visitors who speak neither language, transliterating signs into English probably wouldn't help them. Tourists should hire official Israeli tour guides, that way they're not likely to veer into dangerous areas inadvertently.

Israeli only tour guides.

I agree with the person who wrote that Christians shouldn't be in Israel at all as its holy land and English signs would seem to aid leftists coming into the country to stir up trouble.

Esser Agaroth said...

No Arabic. To assist them or to validate them in anyway is violating a negative commandment "Lo Tehonem."

Batya said...

keli, I write a lot about the attack. It could happen to anyone anytime. English/Latin letters are important for those who don't know Hebrew or Arabic. Keli, we're a big tourist country, not a battle zone where once needs guides all the time.

Ya'aqov, in a perfect world, you'd be right, but unfortunately, the loony left who controls things made Arabic an official language.

We should be protesting to Jerusalem about the lack of Hebrew on the signs I saw.

Esser Agaroth said...

Thus, previous comments.

Batya said...


Hadassa said...

We're not dependent on America. We only think that we are. The money Israel receives is pocket change compared to what Israel gives to America. All we have to do is admit it, which very few Jews want to do.
I disagree on the issue of Latin characters on signs in Israel. I, as most other olim do, relied on them during my first months in Israel and consider them to be just as important as a Hebrew ulpan. Immersion is important, but you can't throw a non-swimmer into the deep end of a pool and expect good results. Ben-Yehuda, you seem to be putting simple signs with Latin characters on the same level as teaching in foreign languages in schools or letting people rely on foreign language newspapers. Why?

Hadassa said...

And now for a story:
The Importance of Proper Signs
About 20 years ago, when the Arabs were throwing small rocks, my (not then) husband and his sister drove through the Shomron, as some English speaking tourists still do today. The official Israeli English language radio news told of troubles in Nablus (what an embarrassment). The signs all read Shechem, as did his map. So he took the route through scenic Shechem, which was then open to all traffic. The scenery included rock throwing youths. (Not to mention the setting sun and the emptying gas tank.)

Esser Agaroth said...

...because I do not see any reason why tourists and new residents of Yehudah and Shomron should wandering around by themselves without having had someone show them around first, English or not.

I think it's too dangerous, and the signs help left Europeans more than Jews.

And, yes, I would be willing to volunteer if I can.

I believe that even English signs, for most, but not all, people could be more of a hindrance to learning Hebrew than a help.

Batya said...

Ya'aqov, Hadassa, Latin-lettered, well-written signs are, as Hadassa pointed out, pikuach nefesh, life-saving.
I don't go for this "escorting foreigners" shtick. It's not only unrealistic, it paints us in a negative way, reinforcing those who want us to appear as invaders in enemy territory.

Esser Agaroth said...

Batya, my whole point is about how we must stop being concerned with what others think of us, or how "we're painted."

If we want English signs up, then let's do it because WE want to and think we need it, not because any other nation will think this way or that about us.

Batya said...

Ya'aqov, this may be a strange reason for you, but I personally, and I'm not the only one, process information much more quickly and efficiently when it's in English. On the roads, that is pikuach nefesh. So, for that serious reason, we need signs in latin letters.

Keli Ata said...

You make an excellent point, Batya. I can see where having the signs in English could well be life-saving and quite helpful.

Since I have never been to Israel I really am not in a position to be commenting on the matter, just speculating.

Though not required, I would still want a guide. Not because the country is dangerous but because I'd want to see things off the typical tourist path--like an actual olive tree grove.

I didn't mean to imply that it's so dangerous guides are necessary at all times.

Batya said...

OK, Keli, when the time comes, we can certainly recommend a good guide!

Hadassa said...

Ben-Yehudah, yes absolutely. Israel should print signs in whatever characters are good for the Jews. Transliteration yes, most translations, no!
P.S. Has anyone else noticed that we're all writing in English about the importance of Hebrew? Why? To encourage the Jews who don't know Hebrew to learn it! I always tell the people whom I help with English that the only two legitimate reasons for learning English are to help new olim UNTIL they learn Hebrew and for business purposes. Unfortunately it's impossible to learn, even in Israel, medicine and other important professions without an excellent level of English.