Haifa mayor declares war on English…of all things!


As mayor, Yona Yahav abolished use of English words in official municipal documents & seeks to obligate businesses to use Hebrew signs instead of, or next to the English ones.

By Daniel Siryoti



With increasing frequency, Israelis are making use of English words in their day-to-day lives. The English language envelops Israeli consumer culture, from the word for music, “muzika,” to simply saying iPhone with an Israeli accent and including so many other instances.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav wants English words off the street. – Photo: Herzi Shapira

English is the language of the “app generation” and prevades Israeli children’s education. It has even become an integral part of authentic Israeli culture in some areas.

But Yona Yahav, the first Israeli mayor of Haifa to have been born in the city, has decided that enough is enough. According to Yahav, it all began when he went to his usual barber for a haircut and discovered a sign outside the shop that read “Hair Stylist” in English.

The mayor reprimanded the young barber and demanded that he replace the sign with one displaying the Hebrew word for barbershop. When the barber refused, the mayor stopped getting his hair cut there.

Yahav launched a campaign and forbade the use of English words in official municipal documents. No more “global” order, no more “auditions,” “fine-tuning,” “test,” “scouting,” “project,” “sound” and many other words that had been commonplace in city documents until now.

The first branch of the municipality to accommodate Yahav’s pet peeve will be the health department, which is coming out with a new recycling initiative involving separation of wet and dry waste. As the word “pilot” program is now not an option, they had to come up with a Hebrew alternative, calling the initiative an “experimental operation.”

Yahav has also approached the department that grants licenses to small businesses to examine the possibility of legally obliging businesses to include Hebrew lettering on shop signs. The municipality stressed that they do not seek to outlaw English altogether, only to require Hebrew wording alongside the English.

View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=6835