Writers on the War

The Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany had an opinion piece this past weekend in the New York Times:

PRESIDENT OBAMA is clearly trying to reach out to the Muslim world. I watched his Inaugural Address on television, and was most struck by the line: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.” He gave his first televised interview from the White House to Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language television channel.

But have these efforts reached the streets of Cairo?

Al-Aswany argues that Obama’s deafening silence about Israel’s air-, land-, and sea-based bombing of Gaza during the first three weeks of January has significantly drained any reservoir of goodwill he might have had in the region. Meanwhile, in the New York Times magazine, the Israeli novelist and screenwriter Etgar Keret contributes a short piece to the Lives section, about running into an old friend while in a bomb shelter. Here is the closing paragraph:

On the train from Beersheba I read a paper that someone had left behind on a seat. There was an item about the lions and ostriches at the Gaza Zoo. They were suffering from the bombing and hadn’t been fed regularly since the war began. The brigade commander wanted to rescue one particular lion in a special operation and transfer it to Israel. The other animals were going to have to fend for themselves. Another, smaller, item, without a picture, reported that the number of children who had died in the bombing of Gaza so far had passed 300. Like the ostriches, the rest of the children there would also have to fend for themselves. Our situation at the level of the matchstick Eiffel Tower has indeed improved beyond recognition. As for the rest, like Kobi, I have my doubts.

You can read both pieces here and here.