Liel Leibovitz of The Tablet, an online Jewish publication, is a fan of Adel Imam and is saddened by the news that Imam was sentenced to three months in jail and 1,000 Egyptian Pounds, or $165, in fines for acting in movies disrespectful of Islam (later overturned).
Leibovitz shares memories from childhood and how Israelis waited for Friday 5:30 p.m. to watch Egyptian movies. And this is the beauty of movies and art in general, it brings people together and pushes zealots and hate to the back. Excerpt from his excellent article below:
We probably couldn’t articulate it at the time, but part of the pleasure of watching Imam was derived from the fact that he was just a funny and normal Arab man. Most of us had never met an Arab in real life. The Arabs we knew were either the crooked and bungling comical villains of our popular children’s books, or the murderous monsters we were told about in school, the ones who massacred the Jews in Hebron and shot down heroes like Yosef Trumpeldor. As Trumpeldor’s famous (and probably apocryphal) dying words hung above the blackboard of my elementary-school classroom, reminding us tots that it was good to die for one’s country, watching Adel Imam frolic on screen felt like a window into an alternate universe, a universe in which Arabs were more busy falling in love and pulling pranks and dancing than incessantly and heartlessly scheming to murder us Jews. When my own father told me, a grave look on his face, that all the Arabs want to do is push all of us Israelis into the sea, Adel Imam winked at me from the TV screen and promised me that it was all rot, that people were as normal in Cairo as they were in Herzliya, that there’s more to life than hate and ideology.