Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rumors swirl around Egyptian film as being pro-Israel

The latest Arab rumor is centered around a film being made in Egypt, called "Naji Atallah."

The rumor, as reported byArabic Al Arabiya, is that the film calls for the normalization of ties with Israel and the building of the wall between Egypt and Gaza. As a result, Arab leaders are not allowing filming to take place on location in their countries.

The plot of the film seems to be that it is a comedy about an Arab with severe debts who hatches a plot to steal a fortune from an Israeli bank. The plot succeeds, but in every Arab country in which they try to start anew, they keep losing their money.

Egyptian cinema often has a political subtext, but the theme here does not seem to be normalization with Israel (which the writer denies explicitly in Al Arabiya) but the idea that Arab unity is a myth. The movie's plot allows the writer and director to explore intra-Arab differences and disputes, implying that they are much worse than problems with Israel.

The screenwriter was interviewed last October as saying, "I rejected the term 'Arab brotherhood'... How, then, we are brothers when we are unable to establish an Arab common market, when we eat each other, and we must admit that most governments and Arab media hate Egypt."

So since his message of intra-Arab hatred is so combustible, it appears that the rumors of a pro-Israeli movie are the most effective means to try to shut it down altogether.