The Day We Were Introduced to Camille Fox

Camille Fox Painter

After that contentious incident between the Egyptian and the Israeli Judokas during the Olympic Games at Rio in 2016, I wanted to give a written account of my mixed perception.

Yet, I was both reluctant and off-track. I was hesitant if I should compose something tackling the incident itself or perhaps something regarding coexistence and culture of diversity.

I also thought of discussing the sociopolitical situation of the region and how the peace process is being sort of simulated, since neutralization is only happening between governments and not between people themselves.

Once again, I thought of discussing certain levels of ersatz patriotism and fanatic sentiments. Then my dilemma took a feminist turn when Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’ Agostino, Olympic runners from New Zealand and America, helped each other after a collision during the women’s 5000 heat.

This was perfect material for a rich, feminist piece of writing. Hamblin mentioned to New Zealand’s breakfast radio that a moment of (kindness) was not what she expected when she prepared for Rio.

Hamblin continued by stating that she will not remember when she finished, she will not remember her time; but she will remember that moment when the two women were four laps from the end of the 5000 meters when they collided.

Although they failed to meet the qualifying time for the heat, both have been included in the 5000 meters final for embodying Olympic spirit. 

I remembered Despina Agelakou, my professor of Greek culture, telling me that according to a sort of protocol in Ancient Greece wars were to stop, in order for those who desired to watch the Olympic Games to go and watch them; while secured and feeling at ease.

There has always been a special connection between Egypt, Greece, and Jerusalem since God knows when. I was miffed; wars used to stop in the B.C. world era, yet we cannot put our differences aside and shake hands in 2016!

Camille Fox
A Greek stamp of the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held.

The plan was then settled that I would write a brief, but rich account on how Jews lived in Egypt. There is ample material for such a piece; books, papers, memoirs, voices, pictures, articles, and others. I finally started to indulge in the plethora of information at my fingertips and my indulgence quickly turned into an amusing type of research.

There has always been a special connection between Egypt, Greece, and Jerusalem since God knows when.

I reached the point when I had an initial draft, which I could have sent to my publisher. I did not know that even this was about to change, once I started to pick some pictures for the article.

An evocative painting of vivid colors stopped me; a lucid Jewish wedding in front of the great Synagogue of Eliyahu Hanavi in Alexandria, Egypt. I saw the painting as a real, authentic resemblance of the Belle Époque of Egypt. I could not but search for the painter, and hallelujah!

This was when I was introduced to the talented and amiable, Ms. Camille Fox. When I first reached her I was full of contentment and triumph. I believe that this was due to the general impression of her brilliant paintings.

An evocative painting of vivid colors stopped me; a lucid Jewish wedding in front of the great Synagogue of Eliyahu Hanavi in Alexandria, Egypt. I saw the painting as a real, authentic resemblance of the Belle Époque of Egypt.

I left her a message and asked for official permission to use some of her particular paintings. Shortly, Fox’s reply came as delightful as her work. Camille Fox is a painter who was born in the city of Alexandria, Egypt and left many years ago at the age of six by the decline of Cosmopolitanism and the second Exodus of the Jews of Egypt.

Settled in Australia, Fox is extremely interested in depicting Egypt’s Golden Era through her art as she mentioned. She has a special attachment to this specific era as her grandparents lived during that time in the 1930s.

Fox’s family were Egyptians for generations, as they lived in Camp Caesar, a famous Alexandrian neighborhood of a real Cosmopolitan essence. Fox attended the Lycée Français School in Chatby; again, one of the pioneering foreign schools of the era.

Camille Fox is a painter who was born in the city of Alexandria, Egypt and left many years ago at the age of six by the decline of Cosmopolitanism and the second Exodus of the Jews of Egypt.

Fox speaks many languages among them English, French, Italian, Arabic, and Hebrew. My communication with Camille Fox instilled within me a lot of positivity and intense thoughts. I became almost certain that politics, wars, and the culture of clashing cannot by any means be stronger than art, coexistence, and peace.

Camille Fox Painting
Hope and Celebration (Tikvah v’ Sincha). A Jewish wedding at Eliyahu Hanavi by Camille Fox.

It is true that no nation can coexist with another without being strong and well educated concerning its past and present. Yet, coexistence itself should be taught and appreciated otherwise, it cannot be practiced.

Coexistence is a culture which deserves to be propagated for. Many politicians have never made the world a better place, but many artists definitely have. I believe that the Egyptian judoka disgraced himself before disgracing his motherland; he also did not embrace the promise of peace.

We are a generation that has witnessed atrocious  wars. We are living in a globalized era comprised of unfathomable fallouts, hatred, and electronic fights. Whenever I read about the frivolous collisions between Arabs and Jews I feel like telling them, “People, this is enough.”

It is true that no nation can coexist with another without being strong and well educated concerning its past and present. Yet, coexistence itself should be taught and appreciated otherwise, it cannot be practiced.

If you are racist or xenophobic, you are ruining our lives, exporting nothing but hereditary resentment and building a very ugly world. One important thing I appreciate about Camille Fox is that there is no place for hatred, agony, or wicked thoughts in her life.

Some of us peacefully fight for our place in this world through art, tolerance, peace, education, and coexistence. You know what? There are people that definitely fear us for this.

At the end of the day there is no difference between Sabah El- Kheer (“good morning” in Egyptian Arabic) and Boker Tov (“good morning” in Hebrew); good is still good, anywhere and in any language.

Some of us peacefully fight for our place in this world through art, tolerance, peace, education, and coexistence.

Introduce to the entire world the image of the new man in this era,
so that he might set an example to the man of our age,
the man of peace everywhere.”

An extract from the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat
Address to the Knesset
November 20, 1977

 

Recommendations From the Author: 

Camille Fox’s website

President Anwar Sadat’s full address to the Knesset

This picture of childhood in the cosmopolitan Alexandria of the early twentieth century, a publication of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Recollections and conversations from the golden Era of Egyptian Jews:

A pictorial history of the Israeli Community Schools in Egypt

The golden era of the Jews of Egypt and the Mediterranean option for a united Middle

East

Jews of Egypt foundation

Meet the last Jews of Cairo

Heba Essam

Heba Essam

Heba Essam was born on January 01, 1990 in Alexandria, Egypt. She studied English Literature in the Faculty of Arts, University of Alexandria, and then she worked on some Gender and women’s studies in the Middle East and North Africa. She is indulged into arts, civilisations and comparative cultural studies, and she is interested in preserving heritage and promoting cosmopolitan culture. Among her various interests are writing, ballet and photography. She is also a women’s rights activist and a humanitarian who successfully executed advocacy campaigns. She has been working for years with prestigious INGOs as a translator and a project coordinator, serving disadvantaged children and refugees. She was trained as a curator and tour guide and she shows around the city of Alexandria in a very different and bounteous stratagem. She is also an active volunteer in ecological and wildlife rehabilitation activities.

6 Comments
  1. It’s been a long time since I read and follow your thoughts and point of view and ask myself why you give so much care to Jewish and Jew in Egypt?
    It is like agenda and you follow it.
    We can talk about good morning in Jewish here, The school of Bahr elbakar. .do you still remember or you want us to forget who is the real enemy?! The “good” morning in Jewish was killing Palestinians and occupied their land with the lie of “living like brother and sister side by side” but Jew lived like monsters killing, invading and spreading hate!
    What kind of peace and “good morning” you are talking about?!
    The tunnels between Sinai and Gaza under protection of Israel? Or you want us to forget their insults to Egypt every victory we celebrate??!
    The golden era.. .oh attractive word which can play with emotions so easily! This was the era of Jews. .the golden era of Jews only not Egyptians..the Egyptians was every simple man and woman not well educated because of the less money he gets from work!
    You have different target!
    To live with Jews and accept them and don’t defeat ourselves from them with the soft power!

  2. Dear Charoolte, it gives me delight that you have been reading my writings and following my views for some time. Yet, I am afraid that you need exactly to know where I stand, as I don’t proceed according to any agends and I am more proud of my intellectual independence than being a part of any planned scenarii or plots. Here is the thing, the Middle East Collective is aiming to bring people together in order to have a better perception of the Orient. As an Alexandrian Egyptian, I am comopolitan by both descend and present life style. We don’t evoke Cosmopolitanism to mourn how we were but to try to enhance our present that disappointed us for so many reasons. The Cosmopolitan epoch had both Foreigners and Sons of the Arabs as both coterie were called. We had Arab quartiers and entities as well the Foreign ones. Jews, were part and parcel of the Egyptian society of both coteries and else for wars, Zionism and world politics Jews of Egypt would have never departed. I quote our former president Sadat who have been through war and peace , “From the Egyptian People who bless this sacred mission of peace, I convey to you the message of peace, the message of the Egyptian People who do not know fanaticism, and whose sons, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, live together in a spirit of cordiality, love and tolerance.” This is Egypt that I really like to live in and I assume that this is what we should propagate for midst all the wars, morbidité, fundamentalist militias, terrorism, hatered, poverty and huger that are fighting against us. We need to differentiate too between Jews and Zionists; Jews of Egypt have their contribution to the Egyptian History and it is evitable to deny it. We don’t forget our past, we learn from it and we exert our utmost to ornate the present and future. Typical wars are over, we are in an an era of even developed types of wars and I think art, beauty and education is our way to fight back. Hatered, grudge in addition to illiteracy got us not where. I hope gave you some sort of clarification. Thanks for taking the time to drop a comment.My best regards.

  3. Dear Heba,

    I was very touched by your article. It was very illustrative of how we feel belonging to a culture.

    1. Dear Mostafa,

      We are glad that you found the article interesting. Human culture is very prolific and accepting to all of us. Cultural coexistence is a notion that really deserves promoting.

      Best regards for you.

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