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Live From Tahrir Square: Hebrew-Speaking Egyptians on Israeli TV

Israelis who have been watching events in Egypt unfold in recent weeks have had a bit of historically unprecedented assistance: average Egyptians describing the latest eyewitness accounts in fluent Hebrew.

Egypt has 12 universities. Each – even Al-Azhar University, the iconic stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood – contains a Middle East Studies department offering Hebrew.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 Egyptian students graduate each year with a major in the language, the result being that Egypt likely has more students studying Hebrew than any other Arab or Muslim country, both in absolute numbers and relative to its total population. Some students take Hebrew to “know their enemy,” others to land security-related jobs, and still others out of sheer curiosity.

Last Friday’s Channel 1 featured Munir Mahmoud, an Egyptian analyst of Israeli politics and a tour guide for Israelis visiting Egypt. He told anchorwoman Anat Sharn of watching Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammed Badie addressing tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo. The interview was conducted in Hebrew.

“I just heard Mohamed Badie speaking to people about jihad. Unfortunately some people still respond to this –it’s just amazing that people still believe this nonsense,” he said.

Embedded below are additional interviews.

On Channel 2 – the first video – Cairo resident Mohammed Yehye told Oded Ben-Ami: “It’s a long time since we’ve been this happy. Now that we’ve toppled the Brotherhood regime, we’re going to continue toward our objectives of liberty, freedom of expression and everything else we’ve dreamed of.”

On Channel 10 – the second video embedded below, though there’s an unembeddable subtitled version here – female journalist and anti-Morsi activist Heba Abu Saif told presenter Guy Zohar: “Morsi to us isn’t just the president, but a servant of the Muslim Brotherhood. Every world leader draws his legitimacy from the people. If the people withdraw that support, he mustn’t stay any longer.”

[Photo: Shani Cohen / YouTube]