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>JN June 27, 2000, Vol. 8, No. 110

Hizbullah Infiltrating Northern Israel

By IsraelWire

Since the IDF unilateral troop withdrawal from southern Lebanon on May 25, Hizbullah terrorists have successfully entered into northern Israel on several occasions. Senior military officials confirm the guerrillas are studying the new IDF deployment along the border and the daily routine of the soldiers deployed in the area. The efforts they add are to facilitate plans to kidnap soldiers to use as hostages in obtaining the release of Sheik Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, both being held in administrative detention by Israel.


Egyptians Want to Learn Hebrew

By Lisa Bryant (VOA-Cairo)

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is scheduled to arrive today in the Middle East to push Israel and Palestinians to speed up their peace talks. In Egypt, the first Arab state to sign a peace deal with Israel, relations between the two countries remain strained. Anti-Israeli sentiments surface regularly in Egyptian newspapers. But despite the rhetoric, an estimated 2,000-3,000 Egyptians are studying and learning to speak Hebrew.

On a recent evening in Cairo's residential Dokki neighborhood, half a dozen Egyptian students are crowded into a small classroom. They are arguing passionately about Egyptian politics. But the language they are speaking is Hebrew.

On the wall, a tiny fan drives street air into the stuffy room. The three-hour lesson has ended at the Egyptian Academic Center, but the students are reluctant to leave.

Since the private Hebrew language center was founded seven-years ago, student enrollment has grown from 100 to 300 students. Even a small number of non-Egyptian Arabs have enrolled.

A Hebrew language instructor at the center, Mounir Mahmoud, says the modest increase in student enrollment is happening elsewhere in Egypt. He says more than one-half dozen Egyptian universities offer Hebrew language classes.

Mahmoud, 40, began studying Hebrew in 1978. That was a year before Egypt and Israel made peace. At that time, Mahmoud said he considered Israel as the enemy. Nonetheless, he said he wanted to learn Hebrew to become a radio announcer.

More than 20-years later, Mahmoud has made about 75 trips to Israel. He speaks Hebrew fluently. He has his own tour guide business targeting Israeli academics visiting Egypt. He does not agree with many Israeli government policies, but he says he now thinks of Israel as Egypt's neighbor.

Twenty-four-year old Mohammed Reda is one of Mahmoud's students. He says he is learning Hebrew because he wants to know more about Israel. "I think we have to study Hebrew because we always talk about peace, and we always talk about the problem with Israel, but we do not know anything about Israel."

The director of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo, Yossi Amitay, says he believes Egyptians studying Hebrew offers another example of these new ties.

"The bottom line is that it reflects a certain amount of optimism regarding the prospects of peace. Many people accept peace, whatever their reservations of Israeli policies here and there. Whatever their opinion about Israel's political conduct, they still accept peace as an accomplished fact and they hope to get the best out of it."

Amitay is an Israeli who has lived in Egypt for three-years. He says he has had a few unpleasant encounters because of his nationality. But, he says, the majority of Egyptians he meets treat him well.

Ironically, Amitay says, many Israelis are also reluctant to study Arabic. Although Arab Israelis are required to study Hebrew, he says, many Jewish students enroll in French or English lessons instead.

Amitay, 62, speaks Arabic fluently. But as a high-school student in Tel Aviv, almost 50-years ago, he considered studying French instead. It was his mother who changed his mind. French is fine, Amitay's mother told him, but the Arabs are our neighbors.


90-Year-Old Seeks Divorce: "My Husband Bores Me"

By IsraelWire

A 90-year-old Haifa resident has requested a divorce from her 95-year-old husband. "My husband is boring," she explained. "I want a young man. We have been married for 25-years following the deaths of our spouses, and it is time to move on."

The woman has eight children from her first marriage and her husband two from his first marriage. All the children are supporting themselves she explained, so she does not have to worry about them.

The elderly Haifa resident has already hired an attorney and is moving forward with divorce proceedings. Efforts by the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to change her mind resulted in failure.


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