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Behind the Headlines Hebrew Studies in Uk Universities

The British government has promised to encourage Hebrew studies at British universities following a request by Israel during a review of the Anglo-Israeli cultural convention. An Israeli delegation, led by Dr. Abba Gefen, director of cultural relations at the Foreign Ministry, called for the introduction of a Hebrew studies course at the prestigious London School of Economics, which would embrace a wide range of Israeli subjects, as well as the Hebrew language.

The British team, including representatives of the Foreign Office and the British Council said it would consider the request for financial assistance in establishing more Hebrew teaching posts. Britain also promised financial assistance in mounting an Israeli exhibition on “The Old Testament in World Music” next month at London’s Royal Festival Hall. The exhibition, organized by Dr. Moshe Gorali, director of the Haifa Music Museum, has been on tour in Italy where it attracted large crowds.

The two countries also agreed to encourage joint research projects into the history of Britain’s Jewish community and are considering a joint symposium of the historical aspects of the Balfour Declaration on the occasion of the Declaration’s 60th anniversary in November. The British side expressed regret that the post of scientific attache at the Israeli Embassy here has been discontinued.

CHECKING SCHOOL TEXT BOOKS

Under another clause of the new agreement each side may draw the other’s attention to the use of school textbooks containing historical misrepresentations. The Israeli side was particularly interested in this because of efforts by anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic bodies to influence school curricula in Britain.

The new agreement, which covers cultural programs over the next two years, makes no mention of cooperation in UNESCO, from which Arab and Afro-Asian countries have sought to exclude Israel. Due to what appears to be an oversight on the Israeli side, the matter was not even discussed.

Gefen was accompanied at the two-day talks by Dr. Yosef Michman-Melkman, Deputy Director of the arts division at the Israeli Education Ministry, David Ranen, scientific counselor at the Israeli Embassy in Paris, and Moshe Dor, cultural attache in London.

The British delegation consisted of R.A.F. Sherwood, head of the Middle East and African section of the British Council; John Morgan, head of the cultural department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and Mary Swinley, head of the British Council in Israel.

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