Arab countries may be showing signs of an increased interest in the Hebrew language, if a December conference in Jordan is any indication.
According to a report Thursday by the Tower, the conference, which took place at Amman’s Center for Israel Studies, focused on the future of Hebrew as a subject of academic study in the Arab world. Arguably the most significant aspect of the event was a document urging Hebrew-language studies at Arab universities.
The reason for increased study of Hebrew in the Arab world may be more strategic than friendly, based on explanations from some of the participants, which included students from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan.
“If knowledge of (Israeli) society is necessary in times of war, it is even more necessary in times of peace,” an Egyptian professor at the conference explained. According to Ynet, a Jordanian professor said that understanding Hebrew could counteract ignorance about “Hebrew culture, the language, and way of thinking. They know and understand us a lot better than we know and understand them.”
Others said the importance of studying Hebrew should override emotions and political disputes. One participant, an Iraqi professor, said learning Hebrew “is now a very urgent matter for our people.”
One participant explained the importance of learning Hebrew “as it is only through language that we can understand the culture of the society and its way of thinking. The language can bring our nations closer.”