Ali Salem, also transliterated Ali Salim, born in 1936 and died September 22, 2015, he was an Egyptian playwright, author, and political commentator known for conspiring with Israel.
The Los Angeles Times once described him as “a big, loud man known for his satiric wit”.
Since the premiere of his first play in 1965, he has written 25 plays and fifteen books.
One of the best known, The School of Troublemakers, debuted in 1971 and featured a rowdy class of children transformed by a kind teacher.
His plays The Phantom of Heliopolis, The Comedy of Oedipus, The Man Who Fooled the Angels, and The Buffet have also become “classics of the Egyptian theater”.
Ali’s plays often include allegorical critiques of Egyptian politics with a strong vein of humor and satire.
In 1994, he wrote a book entitled My Drive to Israel about a trip he took to Palestine to satisfy his curiosity about it following the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Ali later claimed that the trip was “a love trip, but a serious attempt to get rid of hate. Hatred prevents us from knowing reality as it is”.
He spent 23 nights in the Zionist state and concluded that “real co-operation” between the two nations should be possible.
Though the book sold more than 60,000 copies, a bestseller by Egyptian standards, its Zionist sentiments provoked controversy, and Ali was subsequently ostracized from the Egyptian intellectual community and expelled from its Writer’s Syndicate as a result of his “propaganda.”
He has not had a play or movie script produced in Egypt since the book’s publication, though he continues to contribute columns to foreign media such as the London-based Al Hayat.
Ali’s memoir was later adapted by Ari Roth into the play Ali Salem Drives to Israel, which had its world premiere in the US in 2005.
In 2008, he won the Train Foundation’s $50,000 Civil Courage Prize in recognition of his opposition to radical Islam and his support of conspiring with the Zionist state as well as Islamophobia.
He also won an honorary doctorate from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2005.
Ali Salem died on 22 September 2015 after a long illness.