Sir-- We were staying in Sharm El-Sheikh over Easter and returned on 20 April. While there we went to St Catherine's Monastery on 18 April using a driver who took us to Dahab for lunch. We went to Al Capone's and had the most fantastic lunch, one of the highlights of our holiday. We were wel comed and looked after by the waiters, who I can only hope are OK, and just fell in love with the atmosphere. We were horrified when we watched events unfold on Monday night but it left us with a sense of reinforcing our wish to return to Egypt next year, and a desire to offer solidarity to all the people we now consider our friends.
Attention to shift
Sir-- What a fascinating, thought provoking article 'A Greater Palestine' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 27 April-3 May). I do very much like the notion of a renamed and reinvigorated idea of a PRO, Palestine Reunification Organisation. And it is important to be looking for fresh ideas, hopeful ideas that can help lead to a just and lasting peace. However, I am concerned that by embracing and swallowing Jordan, the thrust of this plan will make it ever so easy for attention to be drawn away from the primary struggle with Israeli injustice, easily undermining and destroying the more vulnerable Jordan while Israel, fully funded, armed and protected by fools in America, continues to hold firm in every way it can. In other words, Israel as "the Jewish state" gets what it wanted all along -- no right of return for Palestinians with Jordan as Palestine.
Sir-- Amin Howeidi ('A message to Ehud Olmert' Al-Ahram Weekly 27 April-3 May) calls for Israel to negotiate peace with the Palestinians. Well, the essential condition for negotiations is quite simple: no random violence by the Palestinians. The last serious negotiations by the parties were held by the governments of Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak. These ended because of random Palestinian violence. Former President Anwar Sadat may have found negotiations with Israel frustrating but negotiations between Egypt and Israel were conducted without violence and an agreement was achieved. If Palestinians are serious about reaching an agreement with Israel, they are going to have to do likewise.
Not in my name
Sir-- Not one more of my US tax dollars to the Palestinians. The West providing financial aid to Hamas so they can continue support of suicide bombers is like asking the Arab states to fund Israel's occupation.
Sir-- 'Flu and mismanagement' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 13-19 April) is a well-written and thought provoking assault upon the typical administrative bungling all government seems to be infested with.
Iran not a threat
Sir-- I have to say that I agree with 'Iran is Bush's bogeyman' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 27 April-3 May). From what I've read and watched on TV through the US media, it seems that there is a real spin underway to distract US citizens from the Bush administration's outright failures. Take for example, in our own country, the floods of Louisiana in New Orleans. That situation is still in disarray and turmoil, and I believe the true underlying reason for the slowness and lack of support for that area is racism.
Again in Iran, I smell racism and an opportunity for the Bush administration to salvage some type of legitimacy for his tenure as well as to obtain control over oil.
As a US citizen, I do not feel threatened by Iran advancing its nation by developing and using nuclear power. Other countries are using nuclear power, yet the US media and the Bush administration have said nothing to very little about it. The truth about the Bush administration is that when they make a mistake and tell a lie, they have to cover up the lie with more lies. The world knows that Bush invaded Iraq predicated on lies and the WMD threat. Of course this was overlooked and spun to our military efforts being to "liberate" and bring "democracy" to Iraq. Remember when Bush flew out to the flight carrier and the banner that hung behind him stated Mission Accomplished? Then why are we still in Iraq?
I'm not fooled by what is happening and I believe that the uproar against Bush and his constituents that push for military action will be shouted from rooftops and that Congress will vote against any plans Bush might have for military action.
Sir-- I am not surprised that Papadopulos forgot to mention how his organisation EOKA tried to terrorise the Turks and unite the island with Greece ('Cypriot connection' Al-Ahram Weekly 27 April 3 May).
Another thing he forgot is how the Turks voted to remove the divide and Greeks voted to keep it. For fairness one has to listen to both sides.
Sir-- The headline and the lead in your respected newspaper ('The wretched of the earth' Al-Ahram Weekly 9-15 March) were very catchy but the inaccuracy of the information throughout the article was disappointing.
First, it is called Future Foundation, not Future Association.
Old Agouza is an area totally different from Hetiya and throughout the article the two areas have been confused although neither one is an extension to the other.
The use of the foundation as an example in relation to welfare provision is out of context since the foundation has nothing to do with welfare provision.
Being an NGO, which by definition means Non- Governmental Organisation, is self-implicit that the foundation was not established by the government.
The insinuation about the foundation being established for the benefit of dispossessed and not implementing its mandate is totally unfounded, as it is built on the fact that the foundation is completing high-rise buildings. If the site were visited, which I believe it was, it's clear that the two buildings are five-floor buildings which are not high- rise.
Sir-- The Limelight column of Mrs Lubna Abdel-Aziz invariably invites my reading, however, a few inaccuracies cropped up in 'Can we stop H5N1?' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 6-12 April).
Viruses are not affected by antibiotics and cannot be grown in test tubes. Unlike what was stated, viruses are nevertheless living parasites multiplying only in living matter.
Avian flu was not discovered in Hong Kong in 1997; it was detected in a sea swallow in Scotland as early as 1959.
Tamiflu, Relenza and Zamovir are not vaccines. They are anti-viral chemicals able to hinder the multiplication of viruses.
The coded letters H5N1 are not talismanic. Viruses are ball-shaped bodies protruding peripheral spikes. "H" stands for those proteinhemaglutinnin spikes and N stands for the enzymatic neuraminidase spikes.
Dr Raouf Hakim
Shakespeare in Arabic
Sir-- Mohamed Enani's "On translating Shakespeare into Arabic" ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 13-19 April) catapulted me into remembering my days acting and directing Shakespeare as a student half a century ago. In 1947, two years after the Higher Institute of the Art of Arabic Acting (later the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts) was established by Zaki Tulaimat, I enrolled as a student, and in 1949 I also entered the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University. At the time, I suggested to historian Hussain Mu'nis, the faculty adviser of the student acting group, that we do Shakespeare. In our first production, Romeo and Juliet, Mohsen Sarhan directed, I played Romeo, while Juliet was played by the professional actress Zuzu Nabil. In acting Shakespeare we used the translations of Khalil Mutran -- the only ones available, as Enani points out.
In the spring of 1953 we finally broke with tradition when for the first time a woman graduate student took part in a performance replacing the professional actresses that had been invited to participate up until then. Student actress Amal Fahmi broke ground ably as Ophelia in Hamlet. She went on to enjoy a life- long career in Egyptian broadcasting, ultimately reaching the top position in the Egyptian Radio and Television Union. After Amal Fahmi the gates were open for women as student actors, many of whom went on in the years ahead to enrich Egyptian cultural life. Meanwhile, professional actresses continued to participate in our productions. One of the greats was Amina Rizq who played Hamlet's Gertrude and Othello 's Desdemona.
The actors I directed at Cairo University included Galal El-Sharqawi, Hussein El-Shirbini, and Ahmed Zaki (the director). All three later studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts and went on to become prominent actors while El-Sharqawi also became an accomplished director.