Written by: Ilse Strauss
Article source: www.bridgesforpeace.com

In yet another indication of a new era dawning in the Middle East, the Egyptian Ministry of Education updated its school curriculum with a new subject that will allow Egyptian students to study verses from Judaism for the first time in the country’s history, Al-Monitor reported

The new subject is aimed at instilling in students the importance of shared values by studying the touching points and commonalities—particularly religious tenets and verses—between the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

The Egyptian parliament commended the decision. “The Ministry of Education’s approval of the subject of religious values ​​shared between the divine religions expresses the state’s keenness to spread the values ​​of tolerance and fraternity,” Al-Monitor quoted Kamal Amer, the head of the parliamentary defense and the National Security Committee in the Egyptian Parliament, as saying.

According to Amer, the three Abrahamic faiths “include common values ​​that students must study to be able to confront the extremist…ideas that backward groups are working to spread in society. “President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is keen to teach the youth the values ​​of respect for others, tolerance and rejection of fanaticism and extremism.”

After more than 30 years of vowing to annihilate the Jewish state—and facing Israel on the battlefield numerous times as one of its most formidable foes—Egypt was the first Arab nation to officially recognize Israel in a peace treaty signed in 1979.

While the treaty put a stop to hostilities between the two neighbors, the peace was a frosty one and relations remained coldly indifferent at best.

Jordan followed in Egypt’s footsteps 15 years later by signing another peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and becoming the second Arab state to recognize the Jewish state.

Then, nearly three decades of Arab nations shunning Israel’s outstretched hand of peace later, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco all normalized relations with the Jewish state in quick succession as part of the US-orchestrated Abraham Accord.

Unlike the frosty peace between Israel and neighbors Egypt and Jordan, the Abraham Accord ushered in an era of mutual cooperation, closer ties and collaboration in a number of areas.

Morocco took the newly forged friendship a step further by becoming the first Arab nation to include Jewish history and culture in its curriculum, a move that the head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Morocco described as having “the impact of a tsunami.”

While Egypt has not gone quite to Morocco’s lengths, students being exposed to the values and key verses in Judaism—the religion of its former arch foe—and that in a positive light, is certainly a step in the right direction.

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Date published: 25/03/2021
Feature image: Image for illustrative purposes only. Karen Green/wikimedia.org

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