Islamist Hamas authorities plan to expand Hebrew-language classes in the Gaza Strip’s high schools to help Palestinians know their enemy in times of conflict with Israel.
Far from a sign that peace will soon break out, Hamas’s promotion of Hebrew learning in the Israeli-blockaded Mediterranean enclave aims to make linguistic skill a useful new front in the struggle against the Jewish state.
Hamas rejects Israel’s existence and seeks to supplant it with a Palestinian state, but says Gazans stand to gain from being able to monitor the discourse of a militarily vastly superior adversary in its own language.
Hamas aired threatening video and radio messages to Israelis in Hebrew during eight days of clashes in November in which militants peppered the Jewish state with rocket salvoes before Egypt brokered a ceasefire. Hamas’s Hebrew broadcasts underlined a desire to use Hebrew as a propaganda tool in the conflict.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, have even begun issuing statements in Hebrew via its Twitter account.
Soumaya al-Nakhala, a senior Hamas education ministry official, told Reuters that knowing one’s enemy is consistent with the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.
“Expanding (Hebrew) teaching comes as a result of our plan and meeting greater demand by students to learn Hebrew. They want to learn the language of their enemy so they can avoid their tricks and evil,” al-Nakhala said.
She was alluding to acquiring a grasp of Israel’s politics, policy and strategy towards Palestinians by following its famously vibrant print and electronic media.
Hebrew classes are now limited to ninth-grade students, but will expand to higher grades starting next semester, she said.