Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 22:40 UK

First Israeli film show in Cairo

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News, Cairo

Publicity picture for The Band's Visit
The Band's Visit won the International Critics Award at Cannes

An Israeli film has been shown in Cairo for the first time since Egypt and Israel agreed a peace deal nearly 30 years ago.

It was shown for a selected audience at a hotel in Cairo on Thursday.

The screening took place amid tight security and the event was not advertised in advance.

Previous attempts by Israeli filmmakers to take part in film festivals in Egypt met fierce opposition from Egyptian and Arab artists.

The award winning Israeli film, The Band's Visit, was not allowed to be shown at the Cairo International Film Festival last year.

The Israeli embassy in Cairo has been trying for nearly a year to find a venue that will allow a private screening.

About 100 guests attended the show. According to the Israeli embassy, only about 30% of them were Egyptians.


A press release by the Israeli embassy broke the news only after the event.

The embassy says it is pleased the film was finally shown in Cairo adding that culture was one of the most important tools for bringing people close.

But in reality, the circumstances surrounding the screening shows that it is still a long way before there can be any talk of normal ties between Israel and the first Arab state to recognise its right to exist and sign a peace treaty with it.

Opposition to any cultural or economic ties with Israel remains very strong in Egypt.

Writers or artists who go to Israel or even inadvertently happen to be associated with any event organised by the Israeli embassy come under a sustained barrage of attacks from the media.

The campaign against normalising ties with Israel enjoys broad support among the public and Israel is often described by Egyptian intellectuals as the enemy.

Some justify their hostility on the grounds that Israel continues to occupy Palestinian territories.

While others remain radically opposed to the idea of a Jewish state founded 60 years ago on what they still regard as Arab land.

A new start for Egyptian cinema
30 Jun 08 |  Middle East

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