(JTA) – When Liron Lavi Turkenich devised a writing system combining Hebrew and Arabic characters as a final project at the university, she probably could not have imagined that his script would become the focal point of the Israel pavilion in World Expo 2020 in Dubai.
But after the Abrahamic Accords, in which Israel signed diplomatic agreements to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates, and the peace accords with other Arab countries that followed, the need for Aravrit, the writing of Turkenich, which allows you to read both Hebrew and Arabic from the same text, has developed. The sky is now the limit of the Turkenich project.
âI would like to go to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It’s kind of a dream. I would be happy if someone adopts “El Mahar”. Outdoor sculpture demands attention just as language creates attention, âTurkenich told Haaretz, referring to the sculpture on display in the Israel pavilion. “El Mahar” means “towards tomorrow”.
Turkenich was first inspired to create the writing system through her education in Haifa, one of Israel’s most integrated cities where Jews and Palestinians frequently mix and Arabic is ubiquitous. But Turkenich realized that she tended to ignore this language, which she did not understand, and automatically pay attention to Hebrew, which she understood.
When she read an article by a 19th century French ophthalmologist who wrote that only the top half of Latin letters were actually needed to understand what they were saying, she decided to test the theory on Hebrew. She discovered that it was actually only the lower halves of the letters that were needed in Hebrew. In Arabic, fortunately, it was the upper halves that were needed.
By combining the upper half of Arabic characters and the lower half of Hebrew characters, Turkenich created Aravrit. Although the script is not widely available for use as a downloadable font, Turkenich used the script to design jewelry and ceramic dishes. And now, the massive sculpture – over 40 feet long and 16 feet high – that forms the centerpiece of the Israel Pavilion.
âHebrew and Arabic both have amazing stories. We must not erase them. It’s the same as the political situation: we can’t start from scratch, âTurkenich told JTA in 2017, saying she hoped Aravrit would lead to greater coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians at home and between. Israelis and the peoples of the Arab world.
“I believe Aravrit is sending a message that we are both here, and we might as well say hello,” Turkenich told JTA. “This applies to the Israeli Jews and Arabs, but also to Israel and the Palestinians and to Israel and the Arab world.”
The post Warming Israel-Arab Relations creates a new app for Aravrit, a script that combines Hebrew and Arabic that first appeared on the Jewish Telegraph Agency.