February 12, 2018
Results of our investigation: These are the family recreation sites that ignore Arab visitors
By Hadar Keneh
An investigation conducted by Sikkuy at sites popular with the Arab public found that half of them provide no services at all in Arabic
The three sites that receives the lowest grades are owned by Ir Hasha'ashuim (Entertainment City Ltd.)
Half of the popular recreation sites for families, including Superland, Luna Park, Meymadion and Yamit 2000, provide no services in Arabic, the language of about 20 percent of the population – according to an investigation conducted by Sikkuy – the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality. In order to decide which sites to include in the investigation, Sikkuy – a non-profit organization that promotes Jewish-Arab equality and partnership – conducted a survey in schools and day camps in Arab society.
The children were asked which places their families intend to visit in the summer months. Sikkuy used their replies to draw up a list of 10 recreation sites for families all over the country: Superland in Rishon Letzion, Mini Israel in Latrun, the Meymadion water park in Tel Aviv, the Yamit 2000 water park in Holon, the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem, the Luna Park amusement park in Tel Aviv, the Balagan-Yagur amusement park in Kibbutz Yagur, Agam Hai in Kibbutz Yiron, the Luna Gal water park at Lake Kinneret and the Ramat Gan Safari.
Between July and September 2017 Sikkuy researchers visited these places with a uniform questionnaire and checked the presence of Arabic on their websites and on phone answering systems, the signs and maps at the sites, and whether there were guided tours in Arabic. The lowest grades (0/5) went to three sites owned by Ir Hasha'ashuim – Luna Park, Superland and Meymadion, whereas the fourth is Yamit 2000.
At these four sites Arabic is nowhere to be found. Ir Hasha'ashuim is also the only company among all the operators of the sites that didn't even bother to respond to Sikkuy's findings, despite repeated requests by Sikkuy and by TheMarker business daily.
On the other hand, Yamit 2000 did respond, explaining that there are guided tours in Arabic for organized groups, as well as Arab employees in various positions. They added that "We have taken to heart the subject of the accessibility of the website for Arab speakers, and will make sure to add this language in the coming months."
Mini Israel, Balagan, Agam Hai, Luna Galilee and the Safari received middling grades (2-3/5), after it was found that they provide only basic services in Arab and that there is much room for improvement.
Arabic is recognized in Israel as the second official language, and therefore by law there is a general obligation for government bodies to publish all instructions, official declarations and official forms in Hebrew and Arabic. Also recognized is the individual's right to communicate with government authorities and ministries in Hebrew or in Arabic.
The only site to receive a top grade (5/5) is the Biblical Zoo, where you can find a version of the website in Arabic, as well as signs, maps, Arabic-speaking staff members and guided tours in Arabic. Sikkuy explains that in addition to their basic opposition to the exclusion of Arabic as an official language in Israel, their investigation is also of practical importance.
"The presence of Arabic in such places is critical, mainly because most of the signs deal with safety instructions and vital information for visitors to these sites, a high percentage of whom are Arab children who find it difficult to understand the signs in Hebrew."