The Joint List has proposed bills in the Knesset to create a new Arab city in northern Israel, establish an Arabic language university, and remove bureaucratic difficulties for Arab citizens wishing to visit Arab countries. These bills and others proposed by the Joint List are part of its program to foster equality for Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority.
Another proposed bill calls for establishing as a goal of the Arab educational system the deepening of Arab Palestinian national identity, proud in its cultural achievements, and facilitating its contacts with the Arab and Islamic world. The identity to be promulgated would be based on “the cohesion of the Palestinian people and the strengthening of the memory and Palestinian narrative.” MK Youssef Jabarin (Hadash – Joint Lists) is drafting a bill that would establish an independent Arab education system. This system would teach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Palestinian perspective and include subjects such as “the Nakba and contemporary culture.”
Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh, called for the Israeli government to grant the Arab population wider national rights. Addressing the leadership of the International Friends of Givat Haviva (The Center for a Shared Society), he said: “You can’t only talk about civic equality; we are a people as well as citizens, and deserve national as well as civil rights,” adding that it will “harm no one, it will only augment and enrich… Just as I studied Hebrew in school, Jewish children should study Arabic from the first grade. Does this bother anyone? We should relish there being more than one nation, more than one culture,” Odeh said.
During his speech, Odeh quoted cited the Hebrew-language poet Shaul Tchernichovsky while complaining that Arab cultural figures, such as Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, are left out of the school curriculum. “Why shouldn’t you study about Mahmoud Darwish? But more importantly, why shouldn’t I study my own history? Why do I have to study about Zionist history, but cannot study about the Palestinian resistance movement?”