Breaking a Major Taboo in the Arab World, Egyptian Academic Saad Eddin Ibrahim Speaks in Tel Aviv

(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK) Roger Hercz - Egyptian sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, 79, Egypt's foremost social scientist and the founder of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies in Cairo, was received on Tuesday as a rock star in a packed auditorium at Tel Aviv University. Ibrahim was in Israel to participate in an academic conference about Egyptian society. Ibrahim's participation was a major blow to the anti-normalization movement in the Arab world. With his visit, Ibrahim undermined attempts among academics in Europe and the U.S. to boycott Israeli universities. Ibrahim is a known human rights activist and a strong proponent of widening civil society in Egypt. Ex-president Hosni Mubarak threw him in jail in 2000 for "defaming Egypt's image abroad." Just as he started speaking, about 20 Palestinians got up and shouted insults at him. "You are a traitor to the Palestinian struggle....You are a paid agent." After five minutes, the demonstrators stormed out. Ibrahim responded, "If I am a paid agent, it would be nice if they at least would pay me." In his speech in Tel Aviv, he advocated further normalization with Israel, suggesting the country should be economically integrated into the Arab Middle East. "I hope you guys are all for it," Ibrahim said, as his Israeli listeners answered with enthusiastic clapping. The writer is Middle East correspondent of the Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen.

2018-01-05 00:00:00

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