Mahmoud Salem
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This is pricesless:

An international grade school poetry contest
quickly deteriorated into an aggressive cyberspace battle for Middle
Eastern honor when word got out on the Internet that a nine-year-old
Israeli girl had pulled ahead of an Egyptian competitor and threatened
to take first prize.

Sharon Livneh, a fourth grader at Ma'aleh Adumim's Sde Hemed
elementary school, had no idea when she penned a poem about her
sister's bat mitzva that she had set off a chain of events that would
lead to a fierce Arab-Israeli confrontation on the Internet.

Livneh was the pride of her school and hometown when she became
the only Israeli to be chosen as one of six finalists in a British
Council-sponsored poetry contest.

Just a few hundred kilometers south of Livneh's home an
Egyptian school boy named Youssef el-Kattan was also celebrating his

The two children's poems along with their names and countries
of origin appeared on the British Council's Web site. Whoever received
the most votes via the Internet would win.

You can see where this may be going.. 

Almost immediately it was clear that Livneh and
el-Kattan had attracted a disproportionately large amount of attention
on the Web. While most children had received dozens of votes, Livneh
and el-Kattan had accrued thousands.

"All along she was in second place," recalled Sharon's mother, Adina. "Youssef from Egypt was in first place.

"But around 2 p.m. on Monday, Sharon pulled ahead with 3,475
votes against his 3,445. I admit that I and Sharon's grandfather were
doing some serious campaigning among friends and family.

What happened next was truly funny! 

"All of a sudden they dropped a bomb on us. At 5:40
p.m., Sharon had 4,171 votes, while Youssef had 39,538. Two-and-a-half
hours later the results were 4,476 and 43,347."

So, the mother of Sharon complained about possible foul-play and the Council suspended the voting. You wanna know what the final count was?

Before the British Council suspended the voting, Youssef was leading with 70,000 votes to Sharon's 5,000.


I love the Middle-East! 

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30 thoughts on “The 4th grade poetry Egyptian-Israeli war

  1. That’s a LOT of votes. More than just a few relatives and friends. It sounds like the Egyptian government decided to help out. Sad. Who gets to explain to the kids why the grownups decided to ruin things?

  2. Amazing the lenghts to which people will go to assert the ‘superiority’ of their kinfolk! I agree with Eric that funny as the story is on the surface, it bodes very badly for the children raised in such a climate of constant confrontation. Mind you it does look like Egyptians took this way out of bounds, even if they have a very large population, it certainly looks as if word went out to swamp the poll. As always pity the children!

  3. Damn that’s nothing…come to the USA and watch a kid’s soccer or baseball game…then you can see some battles to the death.

    I think this thing is really funny…but does have an important message or messages…and those can be various.

  4. Jesus Christ, those people have the maturity level far below that of the kids in question!
    You know what… I bet both their poetry was equality charming, cute, and crappy. They’re kids!! These supposed “adults” won’t even shut the hell up and let their children be children!

  5. LOL!

    Haha, way to go Egypt! You won!! You beat the evil occupiers, by cheating, but whatever…

    Did they think they weren’t gonna get caught? lol.

  6. You all fools.

    Can’t you see this Zionist conspiracy?

    This Zionist (9 year old?) girl did not write poetry by herself. Apes and pigs cannot write.

    Than Zionists made it look like they are winning and forced others to cheat to prevent injustice. Now their enemies are embarrassed and sneaky Zionists are celebrating victory.

    How can World be soooooo blind??????????????????

    (Just in case there is a confusion, it is a joke)

  7. Howie;

    Some soccer programs are making the parents take “classes” to teach them how to act like, well, adults. I had a coworker whose kid played soccer. He had some really outrageous stories of iparents acting like idiots during the games.

  8. Bah poetry is one of the most worthless inventions of humanity. It is nothing but a glorified effort to evade clarity with the aid of a thesaurus. I hope all children involved grow up to appreciate nice, clear prose.

  9. Mark,


    For a work that really flows,
    You must eschew your prose.

    Yes, it’s clear but it will never
    be, as poetry, so clever

    Just choose a cadence that is terse
    And put your thoughts to verse

    Throw in a little rhyme
    to make your work sublime

    But my favorite trick of all
    Is when I have the gall

    To finish up with a surprise
    Like this.

  10. Clap, clap clap !!!

    agree with the cadence and rythme but,
    till the last century it has a lot to care with musical sounds

    poetry is not only a form,
    its much more evocating images through words

    and poetry not only lies in a words composition,
    but also in pictural inventions,

    or in every-day life,

    depends on your regard

    and evocating sounds

    even when your eating something, it could be a taste of poetry

    don’t want to cite anyone, I would pass for an “arrogant french”

  11. the same thing also happens in Star Academy every year with the Arab countries voting for their citizens instead of the best, which is why sometimes the Saudis overstayed their talent at the expense of other more talented contestants.
    but it also happens in the UK (and other countries probably). the exit of the scottish participants in the X-Factor competition was long overdue because the great North was voting for them disproportionately. thankfully, the most talented contestant won in the end.
    the sad thing is that when grown-ups politicize activities, it takes away the innocence of the children.

  12. That’s why the voters in the Eurosong contest can’t vote on their own country’s representative.

    Ok, you see block voting (ie scandinavian countries voting for each other, balkan countries voting for each other, latin countries voting for each other) but still…


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  14. #19 make up:

    Thank you for clarifying the discussion by posting that poem. Which one was it? The egyptian kid or the israeli kid?

    It’s a winner either way. Naturally.

  15. We have finally defeated the zionist pigs! Now we can all get together and have a big drunken orgy where we can shoot our guns in the air and figure out better ways to kill the infidels and how we’re going to take over the Great Satan and turn all their women into slave whores. Phewwwwwwwww i feel so much better now.


    I think I need my morning beer (relax its the weekend beer is more than a breakfast drink)

  16. I’m disappointed no one yet has chimed in to suggest by what clever means the fidels burst ahead of the A Team like that. A quick flurry of messages out to some key websites? A pre-programmed Web-bot intifada? A radio host with a fair and unbiased agenda? Considering the “widely appreciated” inferiority of females I’m surprised they bothered to vote at all. Maybe this is a sign that Western values are penetrating even further into a resistant culture and that everything will be ok.

  17. Something similar happened two years ago when the NBA polled basketball fans on their website to vote for the NBA’s greatest player that year, and the voting was overwhelmingly tilted towards Yao Ming with most of the votes coming directly from China. I guess the NBA assumed the viewership was based in the US, so they never expected that nationalist sentiments would make a large group of non-Americans endorse a single figure (who was most definitely NOT the NBA’s greatest player that year, or any year for that matter) and ultimately adulterate the results of the vote.

    Interestingly, both efforts at subterfuge are from cultures which do not have a democratic tradition, but I think that this only means that the people in China and Egypt are more inclined to undermine a process which they have no faith in to begin with, while most westerners take it for granted that the process is fair, controlled, and likely to produce the most equitable outcome.

  18. Folks,forget all the rhetoric. Of all those 75,000 people who supposedly voted for either of these child prodigy poets,how many people do you think actually read both poems before casting their votes, if indeed they had read even one of either’s poems at all?Myself,I would have to say very few!Does anyone have both these poems to show us the readers on this blog?If so, please post both poems (in English of course) and then let us, this forums readers, decide for ourselves what we liked about both of them.In the end though,the true winners will then be all of us,the readers.We will then be the richer for having read them and learned from them.It’s time for us to make these children the most celebrated poets in the world for their art.We must not let them become the political pawns for any religious or national agendas.

  19. i have some questions id luv to ask u. first off, i myself an american…originally Egyptian…am muslim. My question to you is : r u serious about being Neo-Con….and my second question is had you been living in Gaza…would you fight Israel or just idly stand by.


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