Israel and Egypt may have a peace treaty with one another, but studying Hebrew is apparently frowned upon in Egypt.
Egypt’s Al-Nahar TV aired a report last month about an Egyptian lawyer who was accused of spying for Israel because he was surfing on Israeli websites. The report was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
According to the report, the lawyer was sitting in an Internet cafe when the cafe owner began to suspect he was a spy after seeing that the lawyer had entered the website of the Israeli Mossad, and was talking on the phone in many languages – Italian, French, and Hebrew, among others.
The cafe owner immediately called security forces, who arrested the man, who is called Ayman, on charges of spying for Israel.
Ayman is shown saying that he began to learn Hebrew and had been downloading study programs as part of the learning process.
He is asked by the host whether he thought it would be appropriate to begin “normalization with Israel” by studying Hebrew at a time when Egypt is divided in a bloody conflict.
The report also shows the owner of the cafe making a conclusion that anyone who speaks Hebrew must be a spy for Israel.
“The entire people is against normalization,” says the owner. “Since the days of Sadat, the government has been conducting normalization. Hosni Mubarak conducted normalization. But we, people, have rejected this normalization. Then along comes this guy and starts normalization?! Normalization with whom?! That's unacceptable.”
“There's no normalization,” adds the owner. “He must be a spy. Normalization with whom? With Israel? He's got to be a spy.”