Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tel Aviv University’s Egyptian Valedictorian: ‘We Must Always Question Our Assumptions’

Haisam Hassanein grew up surrounded by anti-Israeli stereotypes but found a very different reality when he experienced the country for himself

By Yair Rosenberg for Tablet Magazine    

Last week, Tel Aviv University held its annual graduation ceremony for international master’s students. The event unfolded like most of its kind, with the school’s academic officials offering the assembled students congratulations on the occasion and wisdom for the wider world. But then the year’s valedictorian took the stage and delivered an address that was anything but the usual predictable platitudes.

Haisam Hassanein was born and raised in rural Egypt, probably the last place one would expect an Israeli university’s valedictorian to hail from. In his speech, Hassanein recalled how he had been surrounded from childhood by anti-Israeli stereotypes at home and in the media:

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