7: Newspaper editorial excerpts, "Khofesh hashtikah shel hashofet jubran" ("Justice Joubran's Right to Silence"), March 2, 2012, Hebrew with English translation.
While some have called "Hatikvah" "not Jewish enough" (see resource 5,) still others have maintained that it is in fact too "Jewish." For Israel's non-Jewish Arab minority, the song's explicit references to the ancient hope of the Jewish people have made it uncomfortable to sing, even as faithful citizens of the State of Israel. Such controversy came to a head in 2012, when Justice Salim Joubran of the Supreme Court of Israel, a Christian Arab Israeli, stood for the anthem but declined to join in the singing at a judicial swearing-in ceremony. His silence, though he did not comment on it publicly, was taken as a protest against the song and its suitability as the anthem of a democratic, pluralistic state, and ignited a political firestorm in the country, with some far-right members of the Knesset even calling for his resignation.
Still others rose to his defense, including the Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and the Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon. The major left-wing newspaper Haaretz likewise defended Justice Joubran's choice in this editorial, which explains why the words of "Hatikvah" are not appropriate for all of Israel's citizens and even advocates for them to permanently be amended (though does not provide a suggestion for what the new lyrics could be).
Suggested Activity: Have the class read the excerpts from Haaretz's editorial, whether in Hebrew, English, or both. Now divide the class in two, and have students prepare for a debate. One side will be in support of Joubran's choice, and the other against it. The latter side will be in favor of the words of "Hatikvah" remaining as they are, with the other advocating for the lyrics being changed with the aim of inclusivity. Once their arguments are prepared, moderate a debate between these two sides. Students should be encouraged to draw as much as they can on earlier historical arguments for and against the song.
For a creative homework assignment, ask students to imagine that the Israeli government has accepted Haaretz's position that the song's lyrics should be changed. Ask them to revise the song so that it might resonate with Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, while remaining meaningful to Jews and retaining its poetic tone. What reference-points, instead of the millennia-old national and territorial aspirations of the Jewish people, might they use to celebrate Israel? Alternately, they may be more radical in their rewriting of the anthem, and create something that is critical of the state or even of the landscape itself. Students may write in English or Hebrew (or indeed, any language!), though they should try to create something that matches the scansion of Imber's words, and which could be sung to the famous tune of his "Hatikvah."
Source: Haaretz Editorial staff, "Khofesh hashtikah shel hashofet jubran" ("Justice Joubran's Right to Silence"), Haaretz (Tel Aviv: March 2, 2012), <https://www.haaretz.co.il/opinions/editorial-articles/1.1654782>, accessed March 1, 2019, translated in Haaretz Editorial Staff, "Israel Should Consider Altering Its Anthem to Include non-Jews," <https://www.haaretz.com/1.5200360>, accessed March 1, 2019.