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Mohamed Ramadan: from 'Number One' to the bottom of the pile

Egyptian actor and singer Mohamed Ramadan (R) posted by the official Facebook page of the State of Israel in Arabic hugging Israeli midfielder Dia Saba in Dubai [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]
Egyptian actor and singer Mohamed Ramadan (R) hugging Israeli midfielder Dia Saba in Dubai, posted by the official Facebook page of the State of Israel in Arabic on 22 November 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Egyptian actor and singer Mohamed went to Dubai to receive the "Best 2020 Series Award" for his successful show ""Al Prince" ("The Prince"), only to return downhearted and stained with the shame of normalisation. Palestine is the paramount cause that honours its defenders and humiliates those who attempt to marginalise it.

Ramadan received a hit from his fans in particular and from Egyptians generally after dancing at a party in the UAE to a Hebrew song about occupied Haifa and taking a photo with a well-known Israeli singer. The photo and the song were, of course, part of the UAE strategy to establish normal relations with the colonial-occupation state.

Superstars can be very useful in this regard, given their popularity regardless of what they do. We must remember that Abu Dhabi put pressure on Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf to make a pro-normalisation statement, and has punished him for saying no by preventing him from performing in the UAE. Benjamin Netanyahu backed this up by banning Assaf from re-entering occupied Palestine.

The Arab spirit against the occupation still rejects normalisation and pro-normalisation figures. We recall the outrage that singer Saber Rebai caused after taking a photo with an Israeli army officer, and the case of singer Halema Boland after she appeared in a picture with young Israeli women.

READ: UAE suspends issuing visas to citizens of 13 Muslim majority countries

The common factor between them all is their ignorance and lack of awareness of what is at stake. This is unforgiveable; there is no point in waving the Palestinian flag in daylight, while dancing at night with Israelis and their supporters, stepping daintily through the blood of Palestinian children.

A particularly robust position was taken against Ramadan by Fonoun, the daughter of the late Saeed Saleh. "It is better that my father died before this, or else he would have died of sorrow for discovering your talent because he was so proud of you," she told him. "What Hava Nagila are you dancing to, you fool?"

The Theatrical Professions Syndicate suspended Ramadan's membership and stopped the shooting of his new series until the end of an inquiry. The Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate prohibited the publishing of Ramadan's photos and news items in newspapers and magazines. This reflects the public stance of the people with a vibrant conscience and hearts full of patriotism.

By conducting himself so naively, Ramadan inadvertently showed us the greatness of the people of Egypt, who have received repeated blows from the dictatorship but still stand tall in rejecting the normalisation of relations with Israel, despite "Camp David".

I do not agree with those who underrate the importance of Ramadan's position by referring to the downmarket value of his work, because his stardom means that he has an influence on young people. Hence, condemning and criticising his pro-Israel stance is a duty, and we raise our hats to those who have done so.

READ: UAE 'worked' with Israeli firms prior to normalisation 

The situation is having an effect in Israel too. Israeli singer Noam Shuster said: "What happened to the singer Mohamed Ramadan after meeting the Israeli singer Omer Adam is a scandal for Israel and its propagandists, as it indicates that Arabs will not accept us unless equality and peace are achieved for the Palestinians."

Shuster learned the lesson quickly, and I think that Israel has got the message: the normalisation deals are not worth the paper they are written on without peace and justice for the people of Palestine.

The Egyptian syndicates can lift the sanctions against Ramadan, because at the end of the day the decision is not really theirs in a country ruled by Al-Sisi's regime. The people will not forgive Ramadan, though, and his image will never again be what it was.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 25 November 2020

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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