Palestinian lit festival targeted again

The Literary Saloon reports on the SECOND time the Israelis have shut down events at the beleaguered Palestinian Literature Festival (you can read about the first one here), and makes the obvious point:
From here -- admittedly very, very far away -- PalFest looks like an admirable attempt to promote culture and dialogue -- activity that is, in a way, of course political, but surely not in the (negative) way implied in the crack-down excuse --, and from here the actions by the Israeli government look pretty outrageous. Maybe they have good reasons for the police interference; what astonishes me is that they don't even seem to have to worry about explaining themselves, or any bad PR. Other than what are probably considered outlets that are on the fringe or to be in the other camp anyway no one seems to much care what they've done, or why. 
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Mahfouz and his Echoes

Over at Words without Borders, Geoff Wisner reviews Naguib Mahfouz's "Echoes of an Autobiography" (أصداء السيرة الذاتية) and concludes it may please those with a"high tolerance for mystification and ambiguity." I have a hard time taking seriously any review that starts off by nonchalantly dismissing the Trilogy (as this one does). And I don't have quite as high an opinion of Denys Johnson-Davies's translations as this reviewer does, either. I read parts of "Echoes" in Arabic, in a literature class, and we spent a very thrilling two hours taking apart just a few of the short, allusive scenes. It struck me as prose poetry--an enormous amount of meaning was condensed into little resonant images and anecdotes (a bit the way memories work).  I mention this because this is something that comes up again and again with Arabic literature--the difference between the valuation of certain works by Arabic readers and Western readers, or the way a book when first encountered in translation can strike a Western reader as boring or awkward or pretentious, and then the Arabic original just blows you away. (It's happened to me many times). I can't tell if there is something about translation from Arabic that is particularly difficult, or if the field of literary translation into English is just underdeveloped.
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Member of Obama's advance team in France has swine flu

For a while some of us in Cairo have wondered whether the huge team of staff, journalists, hangers-on and so on who travel with President Obama will have to submit to the swine flu testing taking place at Cairo Airport. There actually seems to be ground for concern, considering the swine flu hysteria that has swept through Egypt:
Member of Obama's advance team in France has swine flu - Monsters and Critics: Paris - A member of the US delegation in France to prepare President Barack Obama's D-Day visit to Normandy has been diagnosed with swine flu, French authorities in the city of Caen said Friday.
This is how he plans to woo Muslims?! Oh I am looking forward to the Egyptian press debating this. [Thanks, EZ]
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Middle East diplomacy: Myths, illusions and peace | The Economist

Middle East diplomacy: Myths, illusions and peace | The Economist
A blandly positive review of Dennis Ross and David Makovsky's new book (which takes an opposite position on engagement with Iran than official Obama policy, which this review does not note), in which they argue against talking to "the Khamas and the Khizbullah".
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Palestine lit festival apparently a threat to Israeli national security

Laila Lalami called my attention to the fact that the opening event of the Palestine Festival of Literature was targeted by the Israeli authorities. This is the second edition of the festival, which brings writers from around the world to do readings and panels in Palestine. Here's what happened, according to the Guardian:
Shortly before the opening event was due to begin, a squad of around a dozen Israeli border police walked into the Palestinian National Theatre, in East Jerusalem, and ordered it to be closed.
Police brought a letter from the Israeli minister of internal security which said the event could not be held because it was a political activity connected to the Palestinian Authority. Members of the audience and the eight speakers were ordered to leave, but the event was held several minutes later, on a smaller scale, in the garden of the nearby French Cultural Centre. Israeli police were deployed on the street outside.
Do check out the video, which shows the event being shut down and relocated--as well as the attendees spending most of their first day waiting at Israeli check points.  (And just wondering--since when is being a political event or being sponsored by the PA enough to get an event shut down? I thought the PA was Israel's negotiating partner? I thought Israel was a democracy?)
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Ad: Townhouse Gallery Benefit Auction

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The Townhouse Gallery, one of Cairo's best art spots, is holding a benefit auction on 6 June 2009. Works by some of the prominent contemporary Egyptian and Middle Eastern artists will be available for sale, with profits funding the gallery's various programs to develop and promote local artists.
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More info: Townhouse_International_Contemporary_Art_Sale_.pdf
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Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape' - Telegraph

Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape' - Telegraph
Explosive - these are the pictures Obama does not want released: "At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee. Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts."
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IMF denies reports it negotiated loans with Hezbollah - Haaretz - Israel News

IMF denies reports it negotiated loans with Hezbollah - Haaretz - Israel News
I was tempted to link to the FT's allegation yesterday but they seemed rather phantasmagorical. The IMF would "negotiate" loans with Hizbullah the day Bibi Netanyahu declares himself in favor of the one-state solution.
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A New Number One

A New Number One
From the always excellent Silk Road Economy blog: "China overtook the United States earlier this year as the world’s largest exporter to the Middle East. It’s the first time the United States has lost its number one ranking since at least the 1960s, or as far back as there is data available. I haven’t seen the figure reported in the media. But I don’t expect to wait long. This is the type of easy to understand statistic that will rattle doors in Washington. I can see the cable news stations going into hyper-drive."
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