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The Israeli Academic Center in Cairo

The Israeli Academic Center in Cairo was established in 1982 by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities on the initiative of Israeli universities and the Israel Oriental Society, following the signing of the cultural agreement between Israel and Egypt in March 1979.
The Israel Academy is responsible for the Center’s operation, which is funded by the Planning and Budgeting Committee of Israel’s Council for Higher Education. A council and a board of directors are in charge of the Center’s activity.
For a list of board members of the Israeli Academic Council in Cairo, please click here.
Since 2006, the Center has been under the direction of Prof. Gabriel M. Rosenbaum, a specialist on the language, literature, and culture of modern Egypt. He was its Director in residence, with his wife, Michal, until 2010, and since then he has directed the Center without being resident in Cairo.
Historically, the Center’s primary mission is to strengthen connections between universities and scholars in Egypt and Israel, help scholars from each country obtain materials from libraries and archives in their fields of research, and foster joint research.
The Center operates a library that serves scholars and students. In more ordinary times, its program has included lectures on a variety of topics, about half of them by academics (mostly from Israel), and the rest by prominent Israeli intellectuals. Most of the Egyptians who use the Center’s services are scholars and students of Hebrew language and literature, Jewish studies, and Israel studies in general, while most of the Israelis who use them are scholars and students of Egyptian and Arab history and culture. In the past, a number of scholars and students from Israel and Egypt received scholarships for visits to Egypt and Israel, respectively, in order to advance their research.
The number of local visitors to the Center has fluctuated over the years, subject to the state of relations between Israel, Egypt, and the neighboring countries, and to other political events in the Middle East. In periods of political tension, the number of Egyptian visitors has declined. Nevertheless, under all circumstances, the Center has continued its operation, providing service and assistance to all who approach it, whether they are Egyptian, Israeli, or nationals of other countries living in or visiting Cairo. Until January 2011, the Center held many events and hosted prominent personalities from Israel’s academic and cultural world, who gave lectures in their fields of expertise.
The Center reduced its activities after the revolution of 2011 in Egypt and the subsequent political events. After being closed for a time, the Center and its library are once again open to visitors, who continue to arrive and use the library and to order study materials from Israel. Although lectures at the Center are currently suspended, the Center plans to resume them when circumstances allow it. The Center has always retained its academic and administrative independence, but in security-related matters it is subject to the instructions of the Security Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the resumption of lectures is dependent upon yet-to-be-determined security arrangements. Much effort has been invested in maintaining the Center’s independent status and continuing its activities under the new conditions imposed upon it.
The library continues to operate as usual, and the Center aims to expand and enrich it. The catalogue has been digitalized and is now accessible via the Internet from any computer. Due to the political situation, an update of the Center’s website to make it available for interactive use over the Internet has been postponed, and the site currently serves only for gaining access to the library. It may be accessed at
Since a new director cannot be sent to Cairo under present circumstances, Prof. Rosenbaum continues to serve as the Center’s director (on a volunteer basis from October 2010 to December 2017, and since then as a part-time staffer). Prof. Rosenbaum, who is in constant contact with the Center, visits Cairo periodically to meet with the Center’s employees and with its friends and associates, and to supervise its work from up close. He is also in regular contact with several other academic centers in Cairo and with the Jewish community there.
For several years, the Center published the Bulletin of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo, a dual-language journal, in English and Arabic, devoted to the culture and history of Egypt and of Israel. Press here to view the full contents of archival issues of the Bulletin (no. 20-27), which was published until 2009.
Former directors of the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo:
Prof. Shimon Shamir (1982–1984)
Prof. Gaby Warburg (1984–1987)
Prof. Asher Ovadiah (1987–1989)
The late Prof. Joseph Ginat (1989–1992)
Prof. Emanuel Marx (1992–1995)
The late Prof. Sasson Somekh (1995–1998)
Dr. Yossi Amitay (1998–2001)
Prof. David Kushner (2001–2003)
Prof. Sariel Shalev (2003–2006) 
Israeli musician Yair Dalal during a visit to the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo, in 2007 (photo: Israel Academy)