Since last October, “Speak in Peace” offers a weekly language course that combines Arabic and Hebrew lessons.
Creator Dan Borodaty, a French Jew, set up the language school with two teachers, Laure, a French-Israeli citizen, and Yahya, who is of Moroccan origin.
“Arabic and Hebrew are two Semitic languages with the same origin. They are very similar, which makes it useful to learn them together,” Laure told the French Liberation newspaper.
Carole, one of the students, is pleased with the course.
“I love languages. I enjoy learning Arabic and Hebrew at the same time. It’s a nice project, a clever way of learning about the two cultures,” she commented
The aims of the course are at once linguistic and cultural.
“The teaching is strictly secular, and aims to respect all religious and political convictions. We welcome everyone without distinction,” Borodaty stressed.
So far, 30 students have enrolled. The class features a Jewish majority, but also includes non-Arabs, non-Jews, a Turkish student and Cherif, an Algerian student who recently enrolled.
“I know the Algerian Arabic, and I wanted to see the similarities between the two languages. I also wanted to be able to read Haaretz (the Israeli newspaper) in Hebrew,” he explained.
Borodaty now has new plans: he wants to launch a trilingual magazine – French, Hebrew, Arabic - and open a Hebrew-Arabic class in the Paris suburbs.
With 600,000 Jews and four millions Muslims living in France, the country is home to the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe.
-Published by arrangement with European Jewish Press , a pan-European news agency based in Belgium