Saturday, September 01, 2007

Egyptian actor faces ban for acting with Israeli

I had always thought that in Sports and the Arts, participants were somehow able to transcend all their bigotry and hatred, at least for the duration of the event. The Olympic Games brings together so-called enemies for friendly, competitive sports, and the transformative power of the Arts also allows people to bond in quite amazing ways, without friction (other than the usual personality problems one might encounter). So, when I read that an Egyptian film actor faces being banned by his union, because one of the other stars in the film is Israeli, it sickened me. When those in the Arts, people who are usually a little more enlightened and inclusive than others, are just as backward and intolerant as much of the rest of the Arab Muslim world, then there truly is no hope for that region.

Amr Waked, a young and up-and-coming Egyptian film actor, shooting a joint BBC/HBO docudrama in Tunisia about Saddam Hussein, faces censure by his union, and a ban from ever working in Egypt again if he doesn't drop out. Waked plays Hussein's son-in-law, and the Israeli (who is said to be of Iraqi origin), Yigal Naor, plays Saddam. Waked claims he had no idea that Naor was an Israeli when he signed the contract, and has told his union reps (in an obvious effort to dissuade them from forcing him to quit) that the film is pro-Arab and anti-U.S. foreign policy. Not surprising, considering the production companies involved.

Although quitting would constitute a major breach in contract, and the actor has told his union that there would be severe consequences, the union is not backing down, and has said it would help him financially if he did quit. I'm going to assume that most actors just want to act, they could care less about politics or anything else (except for the few of us who do care), and being forced to make a decision like this is despicable. Either way, whatever he decides, he's committing artistic suicide. If he quits the film, this young actor (who was also seen in SYRIANA, with George Clooney and Matt Damon) faces being blackballed in Hollywood. If he doesn't, he faces never being able to work in Egypt again.

And why unions involve themselves in such matters, in the first place, is a bone of contention for us, in this country as well. That is one of my major gripes with my unions. They should concern themselves with matters only related to actors, not dabble in politics. I resent having my dues being doled out to political causes that I do not agree with. But at least our unions don't dictate who we can or can not work with. Ashraf Zaki, head of the Egyptian Union for Actors said
"The position of the union is clear in its rejection of normalization [with Israel] and requires that members abide by this position."
In spite of the 1979 Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel, there is still great antipathy for the Israelis and reluctance to expand and normalize relations.

How pathetic and sad, when religion and nationality become factors in artistic endeavours.


Frasypoo said...

That is horrible.
Would like to know how this story ends.Is there anything this guy can do ?

WomanHonorThyself said...

Arabs hate Jews period.
Remember Munich..Sports and Theatre mean nothing to them and their anti semitism hun....
but.....Hope youre havin a great holiday weekend!..:)

Pat Jenkins said...

good post incog. i was thinking of a incident close to something of this when i was watching the us open the other day. sanya mirza, an indian muslim tennis player, had partnered with shaha peer a isreali for some double matches. the out cry for mirza was enormous!!! i wonder about any religion who is rascists to another man. if such a result is from following a movement, what is worship doing to someone. not changing them, that is for sure.

Panhandle Poet said...

It fits the pattern.

American Interests said...

Good post incog. I want to say upfront that I am no fan of unions, and forms of organised collectivism period. They stifle individual creativity and bring everyone down to a common denominator, if the latter is of a lowly standard so be it, the collective is safe and secure, blah... About this actor, it is a sad tale and gross intrusion on ones career and life. Unfortunately, the antipathy to which you refer is most enduring.

Karen said...

That is one sad story. Poor guy. He's stuck between a rock and a hard spot.