Thursday 1 November 2007

And you thought Egypt recognises Israel ?

So you thought that Egypt had signed a peace treaty with Israel years ago
and everything was hunky dory? Wrong!
Read this news item...


(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, OCTOBER 9 - Organisers of the Cairo International Film Festival have rejected an Israeli production and threatened to boycott any Arab moviefest that breaks a taboo on admitting films from the Jewish state. Organisers of the Cairo event, which opens on November 27, have loudly opposed an application by Eran Kolirin's "The Band's Visit", a fictional tale of an Egyptian police band that gets stranded in Israel. The film ultimately ends in a warm exchange between the two populations, and Kolirin has said his production, which won praise at the Munich and Cannes film festivals, sends a strong pro-peace message. But Cairo Film Festival vice president Soheir Abdel Kader saw otherwise: "It is out of the question that an Israeli film plays here," he said, as reported Middle East Online. The Israelis applied for a place at this year's 31st edition of the Egyptian festival - whose motto ironically is "to advance understanding through the language of art between all the peoples of the world" - through the event's representatives in Germany, who Kader said will now be wiped from the festival's contact list.

A solid "anti-normalisation" front exists in Egypt's cultural circles which reject collaboration or contact with Israeli artists or intellectuals, despite a peace deal signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to fuel anger in Egyptians who believe the US-sponsored peace deal changed Egypt's role from regional heavyweight to mediator whose decision-making power is largely defined by Washington. "We regret to hear that the film has not been accepted in Egypt for political reasons without consideration for its artistic merit," Israeli embassy spokesman Benny Sharoni said. (ANSAmed)

The cultural society of Egypt, those you would expect to be the more liberal, educated, open minded, can't even bear to allow an Israeli movie that has been lauded at various film festivals to be shown in Egypt. Even when the subject shows Egypt and Israel on friendly and positive terms...

Is there any hope with this type of mindset in the Middle East ?

Saudi Chutzpah.

While noisy protests took place outside, the Royal Family and the political heads of Britain fawned themselves at the feet of the Saudi king.

True, English oil interests entitle the British Government to show deference to the source of their massive investment. True, the British have a regal sense of courtesy and hospitality.
The dhimmi attitude adopted by the British heirarchy, however, was a painful sight for sore eyes.

Here we had King Abdullah visit the British capital and lecture the British about not doing enough to act against terrorism.
This is the king from the country that exported the September 11th terrorists. This is the king that promotes the export of Wahhabism that radicalises Muslims worldwide and turns them against the West. The Saudi kingdom has been unable, or unwilling, to rein in the threat of this virulent strain of Islam that generates itself from the heartland of Saudi Arabia, the spiritual centre of the Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia has been promoted as a timeless culture and Westerners have been encouraged, including by the Queen, to appreciate this desert kingdoms heritage and traditions.

What culture? What traditions?
The beheading of men, often after unfair trials and torture? The shooting of women? The honour killings?
Perhaps it is not a trivial matter that women are not even allowed to drive in saudi Arabia. What about equal rights for women in that country? When will that occur, if ever?

The king may portray his country as an open and tolerant society. But where are the churches and synagogues? Where is the freedom to worship - if you are not a Muslim?

And as for me, living and working in Israel. What would happen if I arrived in Saudi Arabia waving my Israeli passport?
It would be a toss up between being deported or arrested.