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October 15, 2021 1:19 pm

Grandson of Acclaimed Egyptian Actor Omar Sharif Called ‘Traitor’ in Egypt for Joining Cast of Israeli TV Series

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Omar Sharif Jr. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The grandson of the late legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, famed for his roles in “Doctor Zhivago” and “Lawrence of Arabia,” has been demonized by Egyptians for starring in season three of the popular Israeli television series “Beauty and the Baker,” he told Israel Hayom on Thursday.¬†

It was announced last year that actor and LGBTQ activist Omar Sharif Jr. will join the cast of the romantic drama, known in Hebrew as “Lehiyot Itas.” The show’s third season premiered on Israel’s Channel 12 on Thursday.

The series premiered in 2013 and is about the unconventional romance between a Yemenite Sephardic baker (played by Avraham Aviv Alush) and a wealthy, Ashkenazi international superstar (played by Rotem Sela). Sharif Jr. will have a recurring role as a gay Hollywood agent with Palestinian roots who is married to an Israeli travel agent.

The former GLAAD national spokesperson said news of his involvement in the Israeli show was not well received in Egypt.

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“They weren’t thrilled, unfortunately. There were negative comments, they called me a ‘traitor,'” he explained to Israel Hayom. He added that his grandfather “was treated the same way when he starred in ‘Funny Girl’¬†alongside Barbra Streisand.”

The actor continued to say that he “immediately fell in love” with the show after watching one episode, and in particular its multiculturalism, drawing parallels to his own family. His mother, an Ashkenazi Jew, is the daughter of Holocaust survivors from Poland and his father’s family are Egyptian Muslims.

“There was bicultural dialogue [in the family], which is a very unique thing that is also present in ‘Beauty and the Baker,’ which represents two sides of Israel,” he noted. “My mom sent me to a Jewish school in Canada. I speak Hebrew as well as Yiddish because it was important for my grandparents that I speak Yiddish. [Growing up,] I visited Israel four or five times. I came [to Israel] on a school trip and as part of my bachelor’s degree studies.”

“And although I grew up in Egypt, I understood how important Israel was to the Jews,” he said. “In the society that I grew up in, I mostly heard negative things about Israel, so it was important for me to figure out what my opinion is on this issue, and I did so while studying for my master’s degree, which focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Sharif Jr. discussed his background in detail in his autobiography, “A Tale of Two Omars,” released earlier this month.

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