The Institute for Arabic Studies, established as part of the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva in 1963, is the oldest and the most experienced in the country.
While Arabic is ostensibly a standard element in the Israeli curriculum, many schools do not teach Arabic, and those that do focus on literary Arabic, which is not useful for conversation.
The Institute views language as a bridge for communication and cultural understanding, so language instruction is intertwined with Arabic culture.
There are courses for Hebrew speakers at the Givat Haviva campus, with lengths ranging from a week to an academic year, from weekly classes in the evening to full time intensives. During Covid, the Institute expanded its reach with the addition of online courses, which continue to be popular. Specialized courses bring spoken Arabic to social workers (in a course recognized for Continuing Education Credit), medical personnel, and other professionals serving the Arab population, as well as to workplaces and kibbutzim.
Online courses now reach international students as well, as do spring and summer on-campus intensives for English speakers, which include cultural studies and tours along with the language studies. Students, whether international or Israeli citizens, regularly begin intensive courses with no knowledge of Arabic, and complete them able to read, write, and converse.
The Institute for Arabic Studies is an important part of Givat Haviva’s shared society programming, helping to further understanding and level the field for communication with Israel’s Arab citizens.