Thursday, November 15, 2007

In Egypt, They Actually Do Talk The Talk...

...they just don't walk the walk:
Hebrew has never been so popular in Egypt, Israelis themselves are not

...Many young people in Egypt study and speak Hebrew. Every year around 2,000 Egyptian students enroll in Hebrew courses. Some 500 Hebrew students graduate annually. All the universities in Cairo, including the Muslim Al-Azhar University, and a number in other parts of the country, totaling eight universities, teach Hebrew.

Hebrew-speakers in Egypt can serve in military intelligence (Egypt has one year of compulsory military service). They can also find jobs in one of several civilian institutions such as the broadcasting authority - which has Hebrew-language television broadcasts and a radio station - newspapers, strategic research institutes and translation centers.

In the past Egyptians would study Hebrew to "know your enemy." Munir Mahmoud, 47, a well-known Hebrew teacher, says that after President Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel the attitude toward studying Hebrew changed. High school graduates began thinking of a career associated with Hebrew, not only of military or security service.

...Like many others, [tour guide] Mahmoud is keenly interested in what's going on in Israel. But the political situation and atmosphere in Egypt, as well as the desire for solidarity with the Palestinians, prohibit Egyptians from satisfying their curiosity and visiting Israel or maintaining ties with Israelis.
A career associated with Hebrew--as long as they don't have to speak to native Hebrew speakers, apparently.

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