This common approach of the two men led Plessner to focus on writing a textbook on Arabic grammar, which was to have a great influence on the perception of Arabic teaching in the Hebrew education system. In 1935, Plessner completed his textbook, which was published by the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa and titled The Theory of Arabic Grammar. A Guidebook for Hebrew-Language Schools (Heb.: Torat ha-Diḳduḳ ha-ʿAravi. Sefer ʿEzrah le-Vatei Sefer ʿIvriyyim; Arab.: Kitāb Taʿlīm Qawāʿid al-Lugha al-ʿArabiyya. Li-iʿānat al-Asātidha wa-l-talāmidha fī al-Madāris al-ʿibrāniyya). The textbook was a clear representation in Hebrew of the German approach to the teaching of Arabic grammar. As examples, one need merely refer to the book’s moving dedication (to Plessner’s advisor, Prof. Gotthelf Bergstraesser, 1886–1933, one of the most renowned German Semitic linguists of the twentieth century) and to its bibliography – that is, the books on which Plessner based his writings – which heavily referenced the works of German Orientalists in the field of Arabic grammar.
In the introduction, while explaining its principles, Plessner acknowledged that this project of creating a grammar textbook was indeed crucial for Principal Biram, who, as mentioned, shared Plessner’s academic tradition. Plessner’s central emphasis in the introduction was on the book’s rationale, which emphasized German philological logics. Plessner accentuated the fact that his was an unprecedented work – the creation of a textbook on Arabic studies for Jewish schoolchildren. As he wrote:
»This book is one of a kind. The author requests that all his readers and critics take into account that it has no precursor. The author’s intention is to provide the students with sufficient tables and charts to enable them to memorize the conjugations and declensions; together with the tables in the theoretical section, these make up more than a quarter of the book.«
Plessner then underscored his attempt to emphasize the importance for Hebrew-speaking students of studying Arabic grammar, both in the context of improving their mastery of Hebrew and of creating a grammatical intellectual »umbrella« meaningful for the Hebrew student. Plessner stated:
»The great precision with which the Arabs construct their sentences makes the Arabic language a special instrument that can accustom the Hebrew student to logical thinking. It was this that propelled us to explain syntactical issues – in contrast to the customary methods of the Arabs – from a logical point of view, based on the scholarly studies undertaken in Europe over the past century.«
As a matter of fact, every page of this grammar book – the wording, the dedication, the rationale, the tables, the bibliography, and even the vocalization of every single word in Arabic in the book’s title – makes it clear that this work, written in Hebrew and intended for Jewish students in Palestine, serves as one of the clearest examples of migration of knowledge from Germany to Mandatory Palestine, as it was based on the German philological approach that reverberated with the attitude of European Orientalists and Hebraists. An example of this is its description of grammatical and syntactical issues and its disregard for Arabic approaches, which were described as illogical.
The very publication of Plessner’s book was, on the one hand, a remarkable achievement, introducing leading European academic traditions, based on the research of renowned linguists, and bringing the study of Arabic grammar into the Hebrew language and the Hebrew school. On the other hand, there was an element of exclusion and strangeness; it introduced the classical approach to the teaching of Arabic as a classical, »dead language« to a Jewish society located in a region with an Arab majority possessing a vibrant language and culture. Interestingly, this duality of Arabic in the Jewish community in Palestine/Israel as a language with historical and classical importance on paper, but as one lacking integrative everyday connections in reality, would continue to resonate in the field of Arabic instruction for many decades to come.