Egyptians protest Hebrew in curriculum

Lawmakers: Gov't must reject Hebrew as a foreign language because it "damages Egypt's sovereignty."

Egypt parliament (photo credit: AP)
Egypt parliament
(photo credit: AP)
An Israeli official's request that Egyptian schools should teach Hebrew as a foreign language is being met with verbal protests. Israeli Ambassador to Cairo Shalom Cohen's proposal to add Hebrew to the list of foreign languages in the Egyptian curriculum was met with anger and demands to remove Hebrew studies from the university curriculum, according to Al-Jazeera. Several opposition and independent lawmakers sent urgent requests to the government asking them to officially reject Cohen's proposal, on the grounds that it was improper and "damaged the country's sovereignty." A member of the popular opposition movement, Kifaya, said he did not want to give Hebrew an ill-deserved standing. Hebrew language studies should be limited to students studying for a masters degree or doctorate in social studies, he said, so that they can better understand Israeli society, because they should "know their enemy." Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement in 1979, but the relationship is tense and has often been described as a cold peace. There are many voices within Egypt calling to sever diplomatic ties with Israel. Tensions have recently increased between Israel and Egypt, over Egypt's handling of its border with the Gaza Strip, across which thousands of Palestinians poured into the Sinai desert after the border barrier was breached. Israel is concerned that armed Palestinians will find their way into Israel through the porous border with Egypt, and is planning to reinforce this boundary.