Three months after the Forward reported that early registration had launched for Hebrew domain names in Israel, the process has finally opened up to the public. As of December 26, reports YNetNews, the Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL) will allow anyone to register domain names in Hebrew with the “il” suffix – www.שלום.co.il, for example – through the ISOC web site.
Up to now, “Hebrew domains were available in the pre-public phase only for government offices, corporations, and registered companies,” according to YNetNews. The change is more than cosmetic, writes Haaretz; domain names with Hebrew characters will allow many more Hebrew-speaking surfers to participate in online conversations. “As the new technologies are universalized into a global language, it would seem that Hebrew has been excluded from internet-speak,” writes tech correspondent Sefi Krupsky. “English terms have often been adopted wholesale, without having to go through the process of Hebraicization.” As a result, Krupsky says, Israelis who lack proficiency in other languages have been unable to fully participate in life online. But “Hebrew-loving technophiles can rejoice at the news that the Israeli Internet Association is now allowing domain name registration in the holy language,” he writes.
Registration is subject to availability, says YNetNews, so “anyone who is quick enough might get to snatch his desired domain or even a smart investment for the future. Think of it, any general name ranging from pizza to hotels in Hebrew, could be eventually sold for a much higher price.” According to domain-name trade journal DNJournal.com, the English-language domain Sex.com sold for $13 million in November 2010.