Railways CEO Says Station Names Need Not Be Announced in Arabic

Shutafut-Sharakah group says in statement that it regrets CEO Boaz Zafrir's stance and is considering taking matter to court.

The CEO of Israel Railways has rejected a call to have station names announced in Arabic as well as Hebrew and English in order to keep train rides as quiet as possible. A Jewish-Arab equal rights group called this position "absurd."

The group Shutafut-Sharakah said in a statement it regretted CEO Boaz Zafrir's stance and was considering taking the matter to court. It said the lack of announcements in Arabic meant Arabs were being discriminated against.

Israel Railways train - Archive

The group said that as a public institution, the company was obligated to give equal service to all passengers, and this includes language.

It said that in addition to Arabic's status as an official language, "it's absurd that when the train arrives at stations in cities where it serves mainly Arabs, such as Lod, Ramle and Acre, there are no announcements in Arabic."

But according to Zafrir, "Multiple announcements and the long time it would take to make them by adding another language would make the train ride noisy."

Zafrir said many passengers had asked Israel Railways to reduce the number of announcements because they found them a nuisance. When asked why there were announcements in English but not in Arabic, Zafrir said English served "tourists and citizens of foreign countries," and that this was standard practice in the West.