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Growing number of Palestinians in the West Bank studying Hebrew

By Mason White 10:49 AM March 29, 2013
Palestinian students studying Hebrew 

By: Ryan Lee Hall
(Scroll down for video) A growing number of Palestinian schools in the West Bank are teaching their students Hebrew, according to press reports in Israel.

Listening to songs in Hebrew is officially frowned upon by many residents of the West Bank, but the interest in studying the Hebrew language is clearly picking among Palestinians who want to understand the Israelis.

An example is the Mohammed Bin Rashid Bin Al-Maktoum School of Al-Bireh, a town adjacent to Ramallah, where many students in grades 7 through 10 are opting to study the Hebrew language.

One explanation is strategic for this little known fact that was offered by Samer Nimer, a private school principal, who said that, “We want to know what is happening in Israel first hand, not what others are saying about Israel.” Perhaps even more surprising is Nimer’s revelation that “we use the curriculum issued by the Ministry of Education of Israel.”

Interaction between Palestinians and Israelis is often limited to conflict related situations, such as Palestinians passing through Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, and Palestinian workers allowed to work inside Israel.
“It is good to be able to pick up an Israeli newspaper and read what is going in the Middle East from the Israeli perspective,” a West Bank Palestinian resident told YourJewishNews.com.

For these reasons, the administration of the 600-student school, considered conservative with separated sexes, decided to offer Hebrew as a third language, after Arabic and English. “The parents are supporting us and are thanking us,” Nimer said. “Some parents said they would prefer their children to learn French, but we believe that the use of French is limited here,” he said.

For those who want to learn Hebrew, there are options. There are some 200 language and translation centers operating in the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority’s Education Ministry grants allows the teaching of the Hebrew language.Mobile video not loading? Click here to view