Our discussion with Anat Hoffman revealed the evolving nature of the Hebrew language in Israel. Ms. Hoffman pointed out that until four years ago, there existed no Hebrew word for “integrity.” Nine months ago, the Hebrew word for “accountability” was coined. Just recently, Ms. Hoffman put in a request for a Hebrew translation of the word “pluralism.”
Obviously, just because a specific word does not exist within a language does not mean the concept doesn’t exist within the culture. For example, there is not English equivalent of the word schadenfreude, yet we can understand its meaning and recognize its relevance. Yet Ms. Hoffman used this illustration to point out that these concepts (integrity, accountability, and pluralism) can be undervalued in Israeli society. As a proud defender of Palestinian rights, Hoffman expressed frustration with the City Council for failing to extend equal protection under the law to this group.
I found this to be an interesting analysis. Hoffman pointed to low voter turnout among Palestinians, arguing that they too shared in the blame for the lack of equality. How can a group who refuses to participate in a political process possibly have the right to criticize it? Yet as the prevailing government, Israel has a duty to ensure an honest, equal government. Though a group may not enjoy representation, that does not exempt the City Council from having to defend that group’s rights.
I love election day, but I know my single vote is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I know how much that feeling of insignificance must be magnified among the Palestinian people. But Palestinians must VOTE. They have the power to change the entire political landscape of Jerusalem. Just as the Hebrew language is expanding to accommodate new words, so too must Palestinian culture evolve to encourage its people to take an active role in the political process.