Hebrew-Speaking Egyptians Embrace New Role in Revolution 2.0 (VIDEO)
by Zach Pontz
The military coup in Egypt has given Israelis a chance to witness a revolution of a different sort in their neighboring country: fluency in the Hebrew language.
As protests climaxed last weekend in Egypt, many journalists on the ground in the country were called on by the Israeli press to keep the Israeli public up-to-date on events. Luckily, an extensive Hebrew studies program has prepared many Egyptians for just such an opportunity.
Nine of the 14 state universities in Egypt, including Al-Azhar Islamic University, have Hebrew departments. Close to 20,000 students study Hebrew at these universities at any given point in time, most in colleges of Middle Eastern Studies.
One journalist who covers Israel and also teaches Hebrew, Mounir Mahmoud, told Israeli daily Ma’ariv that between two and three thousand students graduate each year with bachelor’s degrees from Hebrew studies courses.
Mahmoud touts the courses as a way for Egyptians to eradicate stereotypes, saying they “are exposed to Israeli culture and history, and unlike their colleagues who see Israel as only a source of hatred and conquest, they learn about it from a different angle altogether.”