Israel and the King’s English

Over the years one thing that has both startled and puzzled me is Israel’s adoption and use of the American standard of English usage.

This is frequently brought home when I read about the Israeli Defense Forces and have to have any JNF certificate  ‘corrected’ to read honour from the default ‘ honor ‘ in their system.

Given that the State of Israel grew out of the British Mandate from which many aspects were retained it seems unusual that The King’s English was not one of them.

The Orthodox Rabbinate with the Chief Rabbi was a British Mandate institution. Kol Israel, was the sucessor to the Palestine Broadcasting Service which had been founded in 1936 as the official broadcaster of the Mandate.  Similarly the judiciary was a continuation of that of the Mandate period.

Even David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, trained with the Jewish Legion at Fort Edward in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia in Canada which was then part of the British Empire.

Indeed this newspaper with it’s title ‘ The Times of Israel ‘ is closer to ‘ The Times of London ‘ than ‘ The New York Times ‘.

Even before its inception, the King’s English was reflected in The Balfour Declaration which ‘ viewed with favour ‘ what would become present day Israel.

Could this American usage reflect the influence of American publishers such as the Bloch Publishing House or the English edition of ‘ The Forward ‘ newspaper ?

However, given that the Rabbinate, the courts, the first political leaders and the Armed forces all grew out of British systems one would  have assumed that British usage would continue.

Was there some pivotal point at which a deliberate decision was made to turn Israel away from The King’s English and adopt American usage ? I would be interested in knowing.

About the Author
Yonatan Michael Curry is retired Canadian Public servant who has been a frequent traveler to Israel since 2003. With an interest in daily life and its associated values he brings a fresh, observant and unbiased view on various aspects of Israeli daily life. And not without a bit of humour. Though he has never rented a car while there Yonatan has travelled the length and breadth of Israel.
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