The hero of Sinai
First broadcast date
The film tells the story of a little Egyptian boy, Salah, during the occupation of the Sinai by Israel following the 1967 six day war, and the events leading to the war of October 1973, called the Kippour war. The young Salah is chosen to spy on the Israeli army. In fact, as he is not ten years old, he could gain their confidence.
ERTU - Channel 1
Contemporary historical challenges 19th-20th c.
- Art, Culture and Knowledge / Media
- Egypt - Lower Egypt - Port-Fouad
Hero of the Sinaï
June 5th 1967, after several months of tension between Israël and its Arab neighbours, the Jewish state launched a massive, lightning offensive, concentrating a large part of its air force against Egypt. The Egyptian air force was destroyed on the ground and in just a few days the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies were defeated.The immediate consequence of this war, known as the "Six Day War", was to triple the size of Israel's territory, particularly since it now occupied the Sinai peninsula. The war of Yom Kippour in October 1973 enabled the Egyptian army to win back a little of its lost prestige by briefly taking back the pensinsula and crossing the Suez canal. But even so Egypt was not able to recover its lost territory. It had to wait until the Camp David agreement of 1978 and the 1979 Israel-Egypt treaty to get the Sinai back.
This amputation of national territory was a long interlude which has left traces in the Egyptian national consciousness at many different levels. Here, forty years after the event, the memory is expressed as a piece of educational fiction.
The cartoon film made by Zeineb Zemzem is a piece of classic animation, and the first episode can be viewed. It opens in a peaceful Sinai, suddenly bombarded and then occupied by the military, with the the Israeli flag now flying over it. Saleh, a ten year old boy looking after his family's flocks, lives with his parents in the occupied zone. He is noticed by a man working for the Egyptian mukhabarat (secret services). The agent convinces his superiors that the young boy's sense of observation, his alertness and patriotism could be useful assets in an area closely controlled by the Israeli army. Indeed the the boy starts to pass on information to the Egyptians which could help a re-conquest of the Sinai.
More than the war of 1948, the defeat of 1967 traumatised not just Egypt but the entire Arab world. Even if the 1970's later confirmed the strength of the Palestinian resistance and the oil states' emergence as a regional economic power, the Six Day War created a deep fissure across the whole region. Israel's defeat of the Arab armies signalled the end of any utopic pan-Arab dream as well as the Arab left's loss of influence. It also played a considerable role in making the future leaders of political Islam aware. Works of all sorts which use the Six Day War as a theme, like this animated cartoon, are probably in some way a form of catharsis for this trauma.
Hazan Pierre, 2001, 1967 La guerre des Six Jours, Paris, Editions Complexes.
Morris Benny, 2003, Victimes. Histoire revisitée du conflit arabo-sioniste, Paris, Editions Complexes.