Sunday, July 10, 2005

Eli Amir comes to Cairo

Haaretz of 7 July reports : (with thanks:Lily)

Undercover Egyptian security spread out in Cairo's Semiramis Hotel on Wednesday night to secure an unusual event. The Israeli Embassy in Cairo held a literary soiree for Eli Amir, whose new book, "Yasmin," is arousing avid interest in Egypt.

This is the first time in many years that such an affair has been held. For many Egyptians, who object to strengthening the ties with Israel, this kind of event is like a red flag smelling of undesirable "normalization." Unlike previous occasions, the Egyptian authorities this time went out of their way to cooperate with preparations.

(...)Eli Amir was very excited in the days leading up to the event. "As a child, Cairo for me represented the big world," he said at the opening of his speech. "I left Baghdad at the age of 12, from a home in which there were always Egyptian newspapers. Since then I have been attached to Arab culture. I hear my stories in Arabic and then translate them."

Amir came to Cairo as a representative of Western culture and as an Israeli writer with all that this entails. "Arab culture's invasion of Israel," he said, "began the day after the peace with Egypt, and I am not afraid of it. And to you I say, `Don't be afraid of exposure to Hebrew culture.' If we can live in peace, then we should read and get to know each other's culture."
Read article in full.

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