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Report: Arab Anti-Semitism 2002-3

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Report: Arab Anti-Semitism 2002-2003

 

 This is one of a series of reports prepared by the Stephen Roth Institute relating to Arab Anti-Semitism.

The Reports

Arab Anti-semitism 1997, Arab Anti-semitism 1998, Arab Anti-semitism 1999, Arab Anti-semitism 2001, Arab Anti-semitism 2002, Arab Anti-semitism 2003 Arab Anti-semitism 2004, Arab Anti-semitism 2005, Arab Anti-semitism 2006, Arab Anti-semitism 2007, Arab Anti-semitism 2008 

 

Introduction

 

Scholars and journalists visiting the Middle East reported increasingly on the prevalence and intensification of anti-Semitism among Muslims. “Stay in a five-star hotel anywhere from Jordan to Iran,” wrote the journalist Susan Sachs, “and you can buy the infamous forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Arab newspapers abound with anti-Semitic imagery, and textbooks as well as popular culture nurture hatred of Jews, she asserted.1 A significant number of young generation artists have disseminated the message that up until now has been promoted by fundamentalist movements, claimed Israeli commentator Ehud Ya`ari. Its essence is not confined to the nationalist, territorial struggle, but presents the entire Jewish people as a threat to the rest of the world.2 British commentator Harold Evans agrees that the “frenzied, vociferous, paranoid, vicious and prolific” anti-Semitism throughout Muslim countries “is only incidentally connected to the Palestinian conflict.” The fanaticism that has been fomented, he said “adds up to the dehumanization of all Jews.”3

Symbolizing this comprehensive dehumanization was the sign banning entry of Jews to a restaurant in Amman or the one banning entry of “dogs, insects and Jews” to a pharmacy in a Cairo suburb.4 Zionism has become “a barbaric, destructive beast,” wrote Halim Barakat, a professor of Palestinian origin at Georgetown University, who described the rise of Zionism in terms of the 16th century legend of the “golem” of Prague, the clay statue which came to life with an unprecedented destructive force. Worshipping “an avenging God,” the present leadership of Zionism behaves like a golem since its goals justify the means. The younger Israeli generations are brought up to become “strong Jews who take revenge by destroying themselves while destroying others” and not “humanly weak Jews who respect the rights of others and contribute to civilization.”5

There were no new trends in Arab anti-Semitism but the solidification of existing ones, discerned in the wake of al-Aqsa intifada and the attacks of 11 September 2001. The main motifs were:

§         the convergence of anti-Semitism with anti-Americanism;

§         “from victims to executioners” – the equation of Israeli actions with Nazi atrocities;

§         the glorification of martyrdom and sanctioning of killing;

§         dissemination of the myths of The Protocols and the blood libel.

 The convergence of anti-Semitism with Anti-Americanism

The linkage between anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, which reached a peak following the September 11 (2001) attacks, received a fresh boost from subsequent events, primarily the American war against Afghanistan, the Iraq crisis followed by the war on Iraq and the continued low-intensity war between Palestinians and Israelis (see also General Analysis). In an article in the Jordanian daily al-Ra’y, Palestinian commentator As`ad `Abd al-Rahman compared the Arab debate on whether it was feasible to fight the “American bull” in the 1960s to the ongoing discourse since the September 11 attacks. In both, he stressed, there was “an Israeli/Zionist dimension – since Israel is always present in the ‘confrontation’."6

American Jews were blamed for manipulating the US and pushing it into a crusader war against Muslims in order to satisfy Israeli interests. President Bush’s State of the Nation address defining the “axis of evil,” composed of North Korea, Iraq and Iran, triggered a strong reaction in the Arab world. “Where is the power of evil,” asked Salama Ahmad Salama in al-Ahram, accusing Bush of using the language of bin Ladin and ignoring or even supporting the “real terrorist” actions of Israeli PM Sharon. Washington is subservient to the influence of the Jewish vote and therefore neglects its commitment to moral values and principles, wrote Jalal Dawidar in al-Akhbar. Editor of al-Quds al`Arabi `Abd al-Bari `Atwan, who compared Bush’s speech to Hitler’s threat to Poland and Czechoslovakia, attacked Bush for declaring war on half of the world to satisfy the interests of the Hebrew state.7 `Abd al-`Aziz Muhammad claimed in the Egyptian opposition paper al-Wafd that the US had been zionized. Moreover, he said, American Zionism preceded the Zionism of the Jews and Israel, alluding to the Protestant conviction of the return of the Jews to their homeland. The American psyche had endorsed expansion of the state by exterminating the Indians, the original owners of the land, or by purchasing the land, he charged, and the same mentality characterized the return of the Jews to the “Promised Land.”8

The equation of Zionism with Nazism and racism was extended to the comparison of America with Nazism and the swastika, which used to adorn Netanyahu’s or Sharon’s forehead, appeared on Bush’s forehead as well. Sharon and Bush were depicted as a perfect match, bloodthirsty war-mongers, who shared a similar lust for vengeance.9 On 26 January, veteran Egyptian journalist Anis Mansur alleged in his daily column that the US treatment of al-Qa`ida prisoners in Guantanamo Bay prison was “worse than what Hitler did to his rivals from among the Jews and Christians.”10

In a Friday sermon delivered during the month of Ramadan before the war on Iraq, in the Mother of All Battles Mosque in Baghdad, Shaykh Bakr `Abd al-Raziq al-Samaray referred to the challenge posed to the Islamic nation by the forces of the infidels – Jews, Crusaders, Americans and Britons. They – the “descendants of pigs and apes” – are “the real terrorists,” but they cannot threaten Muhammad and his descendants since God is behind them.11 Trying to explain the American-British conspiracy against Iraq and the Muslim nation, writer Muhammad `Isa Dawud claimed that Iraqi president Saddam Husayn was the Islamic mythological anti-Christ (al-masih al-dajjal), whom, it was believed, would emerge from Iraq and bring about a resurrection of the Muslim umma. The first phase in the plans of the anti-Christ, he wrote, was the conquest of Kuwait in August 1990, causing the second Gulf war, the siege and the sanctions on Iraq. The Prophet Muhammad, he claimed, predicted this siege but also the victory over America and the West, including the purification of al-Aqsa of the Jews.12

Over 200 religious scholars convened in Amman in November and reiterated the absolute ban on any kind of cooperation with the Zionist entity and the American administration. Any aggression against any part of the Arab or Islamic land is an aggression against the Muslim umma, they ruled and hence jihad against the Jews and all aggressors is a personal duty (fardh `ayn) incumbent on every Muslim, male and female.13

A year after the bombing of the World Trade Center, the canard that 11 September was a Jewish plot and that 4,000 Jews had absented themselves from the Twin Towers on that day was still prevalent. In fact, it became an unshakable conviction in most Muslim countries, as a Gallup Poll revealed. Most interviewees in nine predominantly Muslim countries rejected the idea that Arabs or Muslims were responsible for the bombings.14 Could an operation of such magnitude be carried out so accurately by an Islamic group receiving orders from a cave in Afghanistan, wondered Mursi `Atallah in the Egyptian al-Ahram al-Masa’, despite all the evidence accumulated.15 The attacks were planned by Jews, it was argued, in order to provide them with an excuse to blame Islam for being a radical and terrorist religion and to destroy the Muslim world.16 Moreover, some papers even predicted another terrorist attack by “the Zionist entity” inside the US in order to push the latter into a war against Iraq.17

To reinforce this thesis, Arab papers of all ideological trends extensively quoted western sources propagating similar views, such as US supremacists Lyndon LaRouche and David Duke, French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy and French journalist Thierry Meyssan.18 The Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up (ZCCF), founded in Abu Dhabi in 1999 under the auspices of the Arab League, was instrumental in presenting their ideas in academic guise. The center organizes conferences and lectures with the participation of Arab and foreign intellectuals, journalists and politicians. It also runs a website which reports on its activities. Several lectures and symposiums held during the year dealt with the September 11 events, Zionism and the Jews. Meyssan, author of The Frightening Deceit (L’effroyable Imposture) who was hosted by the center, repeated his theory about American involvement in the September 11 attacks in support of Islamic terrorists. In mid-June the center organized a symposium on “The Jews in the Arab World,” which was intended to diffuse “international Zionist propaganda intended to inculcate hatred in the hearts of Arabs and Muslims toward the Jews.” Two months later, at the end of August, another seminar was held on “Semitism,” “to expose the fallacious claims and concocted legends of the Zionists and to counter their nefarious propaganda against Arabs and Muslims after the September 11 events, in particular.” Muhammad Khalifa al-Murar, executive director of the center accused the Jews of being the enemies of all nations, cheats and self-seekers, who resorted to churning out lies that they were Semites and were being persecuted, in order “to cover their heinous crimes… against the Palestinian people.” Ahmad Salim Jarad, head of the Israeli Affairs desk in the Arab League spoke of “the misleading concepts of anti-Semitism and terrorism exploited by Israel.” The September 11 events “have complicated the Arab-Israeli conflict,” charged Egyptian scholar Muhammad Khalifa Hasan, director of the Center of Oriental Studies at Cairo University. He asserted that they were fabricated “because we still do not possess solid proof of the real perpetrators and their true objectives.” They led to the labeling of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists, he insisted, and “instead of treating the Palestinian problem as a political issue,” it was reduced to an issue of terrorism. The conference issued several recommendations, including a call to revise the term “anti-Semitism” and highlighting the fact that “Semitism includes Arab people as well and under no circumstances can it be restricted to Jews the majority of whom are not of Semitic origin.”

The conference evoked strong Jewish denunciations. Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, considered it part “of a major effort to de-legitimize Israel and the Jewish people, and accused the Arab League of rendering “a level of legitimacy to this garbage” by its participation. The Wiesenthal Center sent a protest letter to Arab League President `Amru Musa. Yad VaShem Chairman Avner Shalev also condemned the conference for exploiting the issue of the Holocaust “as a platform for political and racist arguments.” In response, the Arab League distanced itself from anti-Jewish statements made in the seminar. In November the Zayed Center published a study focusing on Christian attitudes towards Zionism and the religious dimensions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, urging Arabs to communicate with Christians around the world in order “to highlight the dangers posed to their religion by Zionism.” Palestinian Minister of Islamic Endowments Shaykh Yusuf Salama was also hosted by the center in November and December. Speaking of the spiritual and historical significance of Jerusalem and Palestine for the Arabs and Muslims, he undermined Jewish historical claims to Joseph’s Tomb [the tomb in Nablus which was attacked at the beginning of al-Aqsa intifada, see ASW 2000/1] and Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem, and “regretted the complicity of Zionist and Christian extremists in leading US policy against Islam and Muslims.”19

In an article entitled “The Holocaust: The Jewish Origin and the American Replica,” `Abd al-`Alim Muhammad argued in al-Ahram that the attacks of September 11 were “the holocaust of the 21st century.” They had created a new climate and a new narrative of western supremacy along the lines of the Jewish Holocaust, he charged, enabling the US to exploit the world and extort it emotionally while dividing it into supporters of the American narrative and deniers. Although there was no Arab objection to the Jewish narrative of the Holocaust, he concluded, “we oppose and criticize Jewish and Israeli victims of the Holocaust who perpetrate a ‘holocaust’ against the Palestinian people, not by gas chambers but by killing, destroying and uprooting.” A similar view was expressed by Ahmad Taha al-Naqr in al-Akhbar.20

In April, a US House of Representatives subcommittee heard experts on increasing anti-Semitism and anti-American incitement in the Arab world. “If allowed to flourish,” Abraham Foxman warned, it could become “one of the most destructive forces unleashed in this new century.”21 Congressman Tom Lantos, in a forward to MEMRI’s special report on the alleged perpetration of the September attacks by Jews, wrote that the Arab world had not come to terms with the fact that Arabs planned and executed “the evil deeds,” using Jews as scapegoats for problems of their own making. “Such is the classic utility the anti-Semite finds in his anti-Semitism,” he concluded.22 US ambassador to Cairo David Welch also responded to similar assertions casting doubt on the culpability of al-Qa`ida and implicating the American government or the Jews, published in the Egyptian media on the first anniversary of the attacks. “Disregard of the facts in such serious matters can tarnish the reputation of the Egyptian media in the eyes of the world,” he suggested in an article in al-Ahram. The article evoked harsh criticism and even calls to declare him persona non grata by Egyptian writers, intellectuals and journalists, who were particularly offended by what was perceived as a condescending attitude toward them and an intrusion in their affairs. Some, like Mustafa Bakri editor of the opposition weekly al-Usbu`, raised the issue of alleged crimes and human rights violations perpetrated by the US against Arabs and Muslims, and its unqualified support of “the Zionist entity” despite the latter’s deeds against the Palestinians. Egyptian writer Nabil Sharaf al-Din, on the other hand, acknowledged in an article in the London-based pan-Arab al-Quds al-`Arabi, the cycle of hatred on both sides. The American right, he said, had published a book containing all manner of accusations against Arabs and Muslims, whereas in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the US is portrayed as “the mother of all evils,” “an owl.” They seek its demise and do not hide their joy for the September 11 attacks perpetrated by “a bunch of mujahidin,” disciples of Usama bin Ladin.23

 

“From victims to executioners” – comparing Israeli military actions TO Nazi atrocities

The escalating Israeli-Palestinian confrontation, which reached its peak with the siege on Arafat’s compound in Ramallah in January and Operation Defensive Shield in March-April leading to the redeployment of the IDF in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) territories, spurred a hardening of rhetoric against Israel, Zionism and the US. While the war against Iraq and the September 11 events triggered anti-American sentiments accompanied also by the manifestation of anti-Jewish sentiments, the situation was reversed in the discourse on the intifada: anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric led to anti-American manifestations. Demonstrators in Arab capitals bore banners presenting Sharon as a butcher and Bush as his dog. They burned Israeli and American flags and called for severing all diplomatic relations with Israel and all remaining signs of normalization. In fact, the Cairo Association for Peace was disbanded by a court ruling in September.24 Israel was accused of conducting a premeditated war of extermination against the Palestinian people, “before the eyes of the world, in scenes reminiscent of the barbaric acts of the Nazis.”25 “Silence means a repetition of the 1948 disaster [the Palestinian nakba] in a new form,” wrote Qasim Kasir in the Lebanese daily al-Mustaqbal. The equation of the present suffering inflicted on the Palestinians and the nakba was repeatedly made by various writers, especially after the fierce battle which took place in the Jenin camp in mid-April.26 “Sharon applies himself assiduously to the Shylockian task of dismembering the Palestinians, but there is no regional or international judge standing up to demand that he does not spill a single drop of blood, and reminding him that the Palestinian Antonio is not a debtor but a creditor,” wrote Jalal al-Mashta.27 Other writers also protested against the international silence, especially that of the US, which was interpreted as condoning Israel’s policies. The US is fully responsible for Sharon’s crimes, asserted Ahmad Taha al-Naqr in al-Akhbar.28 Egyptian poet and commentator Ahmad `Abd al-Mu`ti Hijjazi went so far as to compare the massacre of the Indians in Manhattan to the 1948 massacre of Deir Yasin. The method, he said, was the same, and the crimes were derived from the philosophies, the principles, the moral beliefs, the inventions and the achievements of western civilization.29

Traditional themes of the Arab discourse comparing the Palestinian tragedy to the Holocaust and equating Zionism and Nazism were frequently raised in countless articles in Arab newpapers, sermons, television programs and Internet sites. “What is taking place in the Palestinian territories is a crime against humanity,” said an editorial in the Qatari daily al-Raya.30 Zionist crimes are the worst crimes ever committed, claimed Yusuf Jad al-Haq in the Syrian daily Tishrin, whereas the lie of the Holocaust continues to be firmly established in the western mind and serves as “a milk cow.”31 Arab American Ray Hanania, who spoke in Chicago before members of the association of Arab journalists in the US, pointed to Israel as the real source of terrorism and charged that Sharon’s attacks on the Palestinians “mirror the acts of the Nazis” during the 1930s.32 Palestinian intellectual and Colombia University professor Edward Said, assumed that “there is a value in seeing analogies and perhaps hidden similarities” between calamities, and claimed that the Palestinians under Israeli occupation “are as powerless as Jews were in the 1940s.”33 The world was mutely watching the emergence of a “small Third Reich” in Israel led by “a little Hitler,” who pursues in the Palestinian territories the Nazi practices of “persecution, ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination out of a superiority complex,” wrote Muhammad Ka`ush in a Jordanian opposition paper.34 Anis Mansur also considered Sharon “a new Hitler.” By voting for him, Israel “had decided to commit suicide and to crucify itself with its own hands,” arousing Islamic, Christian and even Jewish wrath. Hatred toward Israel increases daily, he wrote in another column, and nowadays whenever the Jews speak of their Holocaust, people remember the holocaust committed by them against the Palestinian people, and they find themselves increasingly strangled as a minority among 400 million Arabs and over a billion Muslims. Although they do not blow themselves up, he reiterated few months later, they create the circumstances for their extermination, as they did when they drove Hitler to kill them. Sharon’s crime is worse than Hitler’s because “he takes revenge on the Arabs for what Hitler did.”35 Referring to the Israeli reaction Nobel Laureate Jose Saramagu’s comment that the siege of Ramallah reminded him of Auschwitz, Baha’ Tahir also thought that Israeli conduct against the Palestinians exceeded German Nazi crimes against the Jews.36

The military operation in the Jenin refugee camp in April was met with strong resistance and therefore caused casualties on both sides and great damage to the camp. Since reporters were not allowed to join the combat forces, rumors spread concerning alleged massacres and atrocities committed by the Israeli army. Even after a UN investigation committee established that no such acts had been perpetrated, the myth persisted, especially in the Arab media. Jenin became not only a symbol of resistance but a catchword for Israeli Nazi behavior. Israel was accused of war crimes, burning bodies, and attacking and executing prisoners.37 “If Jenin was not a real holocaust what are holocausts?” wrote former Egyptian ambassador to Yemen Khalid Mahmud al-Kumi.38 The Egyptian weekly Ruz al-Yusuf published a pictorial article entitled “Hitler’s crematoria and Sharon slaughterhouses.” Pictures of Nazi soldiers, Jewish children behind wire fences, Jewish women with the yellow Star of David and Hitler saluting were juxtaposed with photos of Israeli soldiers beating young Palestinians, wounded Palestinian women and Sharon saluting, accompanied by captions such as: “What is the Arabs’ crime that the Israelis unleash on them their obsession with Nazism? The Nazis are the ones who persecuted them, not the Palestinians.” The Kuwaiti weekly al-Mujtama` published an article in the same vein, entitled “When ‘the Victim’ Plays the Role of Executioner: The Cloning of Nazism.”39

Egyptian journalist and author of a book on Jewish jokes `Adil Hammuda repeated some typical Jewish jokes about the Nazis in an article in Al-Ahram, demonstrating that the Nazis were innocent and naive in comparison to the Jews. Hitler, he said, hated the Jews and did not trust them. In Mein Kampf he expressed his belief that the Jews wanted to establish a state not out of national awareness but in order to create a central organization to deceive the world. When Hitler wanted to get rid of them, no one wanted them and they were sent to hell, he concluded. But “the Jews did not learn their lesson and turned from victims into executioners, from oven fuel into oven owners, and from detainees into criminals. No matter how great their arrogance, their day will come.”40

In an attempt to understand Israeli behavior, `Adil Shafi`I al-Khatib, a member of the Arab Writers Association, assumed that the Jews were indeed driven by fear, the result of a long history of persecution and deportation. Thus, Israel acted aggressively out of fear, but when it committed aggression, its fears only grew. The only way for Israel to escape from this predicament was to cure itself of its fears by curbing its ambitions and its offenses. One of the most malicious articles published in the aftermath of the Jenin affair was written by Fatima `Abdallah Mahmud, who described the Jews as an accursed people who wrought catastrophe on the human race. Hitler himself, she said, was “no more than a modest pupil in the world of murder and bloodshed.” Addressing Hitler, she complained “from the bottom of my heart, if you only had done it, brother, if only it had really happened, so that the world would have been relieved of their evils and crimes.”41

The themes of comparing the Palestinian tragedy to the Holocaust and equating Zionism with Nazism contained many references, as in the case of Fatima’s article, to both denial and justification of the Holocaust, despite the apparent contradiction between them.42

 

Glorifying Martyrdom and Sanctioning Killing

In 2002 and the first half of 2003, incitement against Israel continued unabated in the Palestinian media especially in TV programs and broadcasted sermons. Jews were labeled “conceited,” “arrogant” and “treacherous” and warned that they would be punished on Judgment Day.43 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Mein Kampf and other books defaming Jews, Israel and Zionism were seized by the IDF in April in the PA’s offices in Bethlehem and Ramallah and in May aboard an Egyptian cargo ship. One of the books found in Arafat’s palace in Bethlehem was Zionazism. Fight it before It Kills You (al-sahyunaziya. Qatiluha qabla an taqtulukum), by Mustafa Akhmis, who presented it personally with a written dedication to Arafat’s close associate Yusuf `Abdallah. The book, dedicated to the martyrs of the Palestinian revolution, refuted Jewish history and the origins of contemporary Jewry, denied the Holocaust and described Zionism as “the eighth crusade” planned by imperialist countries.44

Martyrdom was praised, sanctified and encouraged, despite the continuing academic juridical debate among religious scholars (see ASW 2001/2). “You raised our heads high,” wrote Saudi columnist Khalil Ibrahim al-Sa`dat to the perpetrators of the suicide attack on Passover eve in the Park Hotel, Netanya.46 Chairman of the Arab Psychiatrists’ Association `Adil Sadiq from the Department of Psychiatry at `Ayn Shams University, Cairo, described “as a professional psychiatrist” the height of bliss reached by the martyr when he ended the countdown and exploded. “He has a sense of flying, because he knows for certain that he is not dead. It is a transition to another, more beautiful, world,” he explained, adding, “no one in the western world sacrifices his life for his homeland.”46 Gazan psychiatrist `Iyad Sarraj explained that martyrs’ (shuhada’) enjoyed an “unparalleled status in Palestinian society,” and parents encouraged this goal. Suicide bombings perceived as martyrdom operations are considered “the most sublime means of battle that the Palestinian people have created,” or “the highest form of jihad.” The Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), a Palestinian research organization, found in a May-June survey that a majority of 68 percent supported suicide bombings. Jamila Shanti, head of the Women’s Activities division of Hamas, also admitted that the issue of martyrdom had gained much popularity. A new children magazine, The Conqueror (al-Fatih), published by Hamas, reportedly included stories of the heroism of Palestinian martyrs. Martyrs’ families, too, enjoyed an elevated status due to substantial financial support from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.47

A new phenomenon – female suicide bombers – triggered a debate on whether this was permitted in Islam. Shanti condoned the participation of women in jihad, and asserted that “there is no difference between the martyrdom of sisters and the martyrdom of brothers, because the enemy does not differentiate between firing on men and firing on women.” However, Hamas spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin preferred to see women performing their traditional role of supporting the fighters, especially since Islam set restrictions, requiring a female fighter to be accompanied by a chaperon if she went out to wage jihad. However, several women blew themselves up in suicide operations and in Egypt books commemorating their memory were published.48

The question of religious legitimization of suicide attacks continued to be debated, especially in view of the devastation of Palestinian life as a result of Israeli retaliation and the growing awareness of the negative impact they had on world opinion, especially after the September 11 attacks. The contradictory statements made by Shaykh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, shaykh al-Azhar, the highest Sunni authority, are indicative of the confusion. He ruled against suicide attacks, but after coming under attack he changed his mind and justified any such attack on Israelis as occupiers and hence considered suicide bombers martyrs, who according to Islamic conviction enjoyed special privileges in the hereafter.49

Yet, despite their fundamental worldview, condoning the targeting of Israelis and even Jews worldwide (see ASW 2000/1), Islamist scholars and Palestinian Islamists insisted that they were not fighting Jews because they were Jews. Prominent `Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade member Salah Mustafa Muhammad Shahada explained in an interview that his organization fought Jews “because they are occupying our lands” and not because of their faith.50 A similar view was expressed by Islamist scholar Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in an interview to the Qatar-based al-Jazira satellite TV. Qaradawi who consistently gave religious sanction to suicide attacks against any Israeli target, explained in response to a question on the traditional enmity between Muslims and Jews according to the Qur’an, that it was “not a call to fight them. Rather, it is a way of exposing their history, values, and manners, so one can use caution when dealing with them.”51

Speakers for Palestinian Islamist organizations rejected the Israeli and American definition of terrorism, which linked them to the September 11 attacks. “The US description of martyrdom operations as terrorism is false and libelous,” said Shaykh Yusuf Jum`a Salama. The final statement of the conference of foreign ministers of the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO), issued in Kuala Lumpur at the end of March, rejected any linkage between terrorism (which was considered despicable) and the Palestinian resistance, which was striving to exercise the Palestinians’ legitimate rights.52

However, despite these attempts to deflect any links between the Palestinian militants and the international Islamist front identified with Usama bin Ladin and al-Qa`ida, there were increasing indications during the year of attempts by al-Qa`ida, Hizballah and Iran to penetrate their ranks.53 Moreover, al-Qa`ida was giving Palestine higher priority – a trend reflected in several statements by bin Ladin and his aides and in two attacks, one against an old Jewish synagogue in Tunisia and another against an Israeli target in Mombassa.

Al-Qa`ida’s vision was clearly expressed by its spokesmen and members. Zakariya Musawi, the suspect charged with conspiring in the September 11 attacks, called in an Alexandria, Virginia, court for the destruction of the US and of the Jewish people and Israel.54 America, in collaboration with the Jews, led the moral, ideological, political and economic corruption in the world and disseminated evil and licentiousness, charged Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian jihad leader and bin Ladin’s top aide. The Jews, he continued in an article published in the London-based Saudi paper al-Sharq al-Awsat, with the support and blessing of the Americans, carried out the most vicious crimes against Palestinians. Jihad against Americans, Jews and anyone who follows their path is the only way to fight their evils and bring about the triumph of Islam, he concluded.55 Similar messages attributed to bin Ladin were published in Arab papers and websites or broadcast on al-Jazira Qatari satellite television on several occasions during the year. The gist of the messages was: “Seeking to kill Americans and Jews everywhere in the world is one of the greatest duties” for Muslims and the “most preferred by Allah.” The Jews of today, he said in his message broadcast on 11 February 2003 on the eve of the Iraq war, were the same ones that lied and tried to trick the Creator, killed the Prophets and broke their promises. The Jews were the lords of usury and leaders of treachery, who believed that humans were their slaves. In conclusion, he repeated the oft-quoted saying (hadith) about Judgement Day, according to which Jews would hide behind rocks and trees, which would call on the Muslims to come and kill them. This hadith, he stressed, indicated that the battle would be face to face and that the Muslims would emerge victorious in their jihad against the Crusaders and the Jews.56

In these appeals to Arabs and Muslims, no differentiation was made between Jews and Israelis. They were all legitimate targets for the jihad war that Islamists were instigating against the Judeo-Christian alliance. Although al-Qa`ida had suffered great losses since the US launched its war against terrorism, scattered cells were still active and new members were being recruited, posing a real danger to Jews and Israelis. Calls to target Jews worldwide were reiterated in Friday sermons on the eve of the Iraq war in Iraqi mosques as well as at other Arab gatherings and demonstrations, which indeed precipitated action.

On 11 April 2002 a truck loaded with gasoline and explosives blew up in an alley leading to the old synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, killing two Jews, 11 German tourists, the truck driver and a police officer. Worshippers in the synagogue were unhurt. A group named the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Places, linked to al-Qa`ida and to Islamist cells in Europe and Canada, took responsibility for the attack. At the beginning of June al-Qa`ida spokesman Sulayman Abu Ghith proudly confirmed the group’s complicity in the attack in a message published on al-Nidaa Internet site.57 This, in fact, was the first strike against a Jewish target since the 1994 attack in Argentina. Following this incident, other acts of vandalism and arson were perpetrated, creating a growing feeling of insecurity among the Tunisian Jewish community of about 2,000. In April and May, there were also four stabbings of Jews in Casablanca, Morocco.

On 28 November al-Qa`ida perpetrated another attack in Mombassa, Kenya. Missiles were shot at an Israeli plane while it was taking off, but missed. However, a ground attack on the nearby Paradise Hotel killed over ten Kenyans and three Israelis, wounded several others and caused heavy damage. In communiqués posted on its associated websites, al-Qa`ida viewed the attack as another link in the chain against the “alliance of Jews and Crusaders,” and as “a gift for Ramadan.”58    

 

Spreading the Myths of the Protocols and the Blood Libel

Radicalized demonization of Israel and Zionism and hence of Jews intensified the popularization of anti-Semitic motifs. Ehud Ya`ari concluded that significant numbers of young Arab artists had “volunteered their services to sharpen and stylize” the negative message about Israelis and Jews.59

One of the most successful summer movies in Egypt was The Mafia, a thriller pitting the Egyptians – the good guys – against a Jewish terrorist organization – the bad guys – who planned to assassinate the Pope. A new educational television program, “The Sons of Noah” reportedly explores the historical and geographical roots of Semitism. Jamal al-Sha`ir, head of the educational channel, said that the first chapter deals with Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, “known as the Holocaust,” exploited by the Jews to emotionally extort the world.60

Ibrahim Nafi`, in one of his daily columns, and few months later Wajih Abu Zikra in an article in al-Akhbar, reported that Israelis were removing the organs of Palestinians killed in fighting in order to give them to Jews in need of transplants.61 The eighth edition of The Matzah of Zion by Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, based on the 1840 Damascus blood libel was among the most popular books at the Syrian international book fair, held in October. The new edition includes, according to al-Hayat, a new chapter - a translation of the book The Young Martyr of Prague, on the murder of a teenager in Prague in 1694. Due to great demand, the Tlass Publishing House decided to translate the book into English, French and Italian. Tlass refuted accusations that he is anti-Semitic, and the official Syrian response was that Syrians are neither racist nor anti-Jewish, but anti-Zionist.62

Articles describing the alleged use of human blood in Jewish rituals were published in the Saudi paper al-Riyadh in March and in the Iraqi daily al-Thawra on 3 May. Following American protests to the Saudis, the editor of the paper apologized and fired the author, Umayma Ahmad al-Jalahma of King Faysal University in Dammam.63

The Case of Ibrahim Nafi`: The blood libel was the cause for a lawsuit filed against al-Ahram editor-in- chief and chairman of the Arab Press Syndicate Ibrahim Nafi` in a Paris court by the International League against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA), identified in the Arab media as a “Paris-based Jewish group.” On 28 October 2000, the paper published an article by Egyptian columnist `Adil Hammuda entitled “A Jewish Pie from Arab Blood.” The author narrated the Damascus blood libel, and concluded that it was a true ongoing story in light of Israeli aggression against Palestinian children (see ASW 2000/1). The suit, filed a year and half later, deemed the article anti-Semitic and accused the paper of “inciting hatred and racist violence.” Nafi` was to appear in court on 9 August 2002, but in accordance with existing agreements between the French and the Egyptian governments, he was interrogated by an Egyptian judicial body whose findings were sent to the French court by the end of that year.64

The case drew angry responses from the Arab world and the support of individuals and organizations who vowed to stand by Nafi` and repel attempts to silence criticism of Israel.65 Nafi` wrote a lengthy article on 1 August entitled “The Myth of anti-Semitism in the Egyptian Press.” He accused the “Zionist right” in the US and Europe of launching “periodic venomous campaigns against Egypt, its leadership, and its political and intellectual figures,” as well as anti-Semitism. These allegations, he claimed, were “an obvious attempt at extortion,” employed whenever there was a chance for unified Arab action or when Egypt performed its role as the leading Arab country. Reiterating the notion that Arabs as Semites cannot be anti-Semites, he examined one by one articles mentioned in a report on anti-Semitism in the Egyptian press and circulated among foreign diplomatic delegations in Cairo by “unnamed Zionist circles.” All the charges raised against Israel in these articles, he claimed – committing war crimes, genocide of the Palestinian people and terrorism, violation of human rights, and equating Israeli policies with Nazism – could not be considered anti-Semitic or racist. They constituted legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and reflected an attempt to abuse the freedom of expression of the Egyptian press, especially when compared to racist utterances of Jewish fundamentalists or of Israeli politicians from the right and left. Moreover, he added, Egypt and the Arab world did not share the European experience with Nazism. “For us [Nazism] means no more than a racist movement which committed abhorrent crimes in Europe, and hence, it is the right of any writer or any intellectual to see the similarities between Sharon’s policies and Nazi policies.”66

The case, which reminded several commentators of the trial of Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy in February 1998 (see ASW 1998/9), was seen by Egyptian politicians and commentators as politically motivated and a continuation “of Israel’s relentless efforts to win sympathy by invoking the charge of anti-Semitism.” Israelis “exploit historic events that have resonance for Europeans,” added Egyptian expert on Israeli affairs `Imad Jad, to undermine criticism against Israel. There was general agreement that:

§         the affair reflected Zionist attempts “to drag Arab opinion leaders to the courts on unsubstantiated charges” in order to tarnish the Arab and Muslim reputation and particularly that of Egypt for its support of the Palestinian cause;

§         the French court subpoena was illegal and it could not judge citizens of another country;

§         al-Ahram would “meet the challenge” in defense of the free press and freedom of expression and thought; and

§         Arabs should organize a movement to combat Zionist racism, file counter lawsuits and pursue Israeli religious and political figures who defame Arabs.67

Horseman without a Horse: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were the inspiration of Egyptian co-author and producer Muhammad Subhi for the notorious 41-part television series Horseman without a Horse. The series was aired over six weeks, from 6 November, in the prime time holiday month of Ramadan. The main theme of the series purports to relate the history of the family of the hero, Hafiz Najib, a journalist and activist in the Arab national movement. Through his eyes the history of the Middle East and of Arab nationalism and resistance to Ottoman and British rule from the mid-19th century till 1948 [the establishment of the State of Israel] unfolds. The subplot, which occupies several segments, alludes to The Protocols. A group of stereotypical orthodox Jewish elders is depicted discussing the establishment of a Jewish state with British help, and conniving to prevent publication of a copy of The Protocols smuggled into Egypt. Hafiz insists on finding the copy in order to establish whether the Protocols are true. Despite the Jews’ efforts to thwart him, he finds it and orders its translation into Arabic. During these episodes the gist of their contents is exposed. Jews are portrayed as the enemies of mankind who seek to take over the world through the use of money, murder, sex and other despicable means, and Zionism is portrayed as part of “The Elders of Zion” conspiracy. The question of authenticity remains unresolved, leaving the viewers to decide for themselves.68

Even before its screening, the series aroused strong protests by Jewish organizations and by the American State Department, which perceived it as continuing a pattern of anti-Semitic incitement in the Egyptian media. The American Congress even threatened to cut off aid to Egypt and US ambassador in Egypt David Welch raised his country’s concerns with Egyptian Minister of Information Safwat al-Sharif. Al-Sharif refuted the allegations that the series was anti-Semitic, and Government Spokesman Nabil `Uthman issued a statement at the beginning of November saying that prejudging a program before it was aired indicated “an immature” attitude and was a form of “intellectual and emotional terrorism.” There is, he admitted, a long history of controversy between Egypt and America over anti-Semitism. President Husni Mubarak also defended the series in response to a letter of protest submitted by Israeli President Moshe Katzav, claiming that it was not based on the infamous Protocols, but was “an artistic interpretation of history.”69 Following this uproar, Egyptian television decided to replace the original opening sequence declaring that some of the events were real and some imaginary, with a statement explaining that the series was not intended to prove the authenticity of The Protocols. Six countries, among them Bahrain and the Spanish Arabic channel, yielded to pressure and withdrew the program, which in Egypt reportedly attracted a very large audience.70

Subhi, who also performs the hero’s role, accused the Israeli lobby of manufacturing mayhem by misrepresenting the extent to which the program deals with The Protocols and denied the charges of anti-Semitism. His research, he maintained, proved that 19 of the 24 protocols had been put into practice. He expressed his satisfaction that he was capable of revealing “the great conspiracy aimed at swallowing our beloved nation,” and boasted that if the production “terrified Zionists, we will produce further series.”71

The protests and condemnations before and during the screening of the series sparked a lively discourse in the Arab, particularly Egyptian, media on The Protocols, on Arab attitudes toward Jews and on Arab anti-Semitism. In many ways this was a continuation of the earlier debates that erupted following the indictment of Ibrahim Nafi’ and after the publication of a David Welch’s critical article in September (see above), all of which gave rise to expressions of national sentiments which rejected outside interference in Arab affairs and stressed that Arabs should not be expected to act objectively when Jews were involved. Most Egyptians were reportedly relieved to see that their government had not surrendered to Washington’s threats to cut off aid. Defending the right of freedom of expression, supporters of the series also bristled at what they called the hypocrisy of the “land of the free,” which, while ostensibly lauding its own uncensored media, demanded that the Egyptian government censor the privately owned network which produced it. They perceived the strong reaction to the program as a Zionist orchestrated attack against Arabs and Muslims, and specifically against Egypt, the leading Arab country. Zaynab al-Imam expressed in al-Ahram her gratitude to all those who took part in the production, and especially to its hero (Subhi), for “grasping the importance of art as a weapon to be used culturally and consciously.” It is an effective weapon, she continued, which “does not spill blood but enlighten the minds.” Many others shared her viewpoint.72

The diplomatic wrangles elicited renewed interest in The Protocols. They were published in full in the opposition weekly al-`Arabi73 and a new edition of the book in Arabic was printed to satisfy demand.74 `Abd al-`Aziz al-Suwayd urged Arab publishers, in the Saudi daily al-Riyadh, to issue them in inexpensive popular editions without profit considerations. Those who relied on “this important book” and accepted the conspiracy theory are accused of being “stupid, reactionary and uncivilized,” in order to clear the name of the Jews from past and present misdeeds, he said. They are also charged with being anti-Semites, an allegation used by the Jews as a shield behind which they realized most of their achievements. Among these he listed their exoneration by the Pope in 1965 for the killing of Jesus and abrogation of the decision equating Zionism and racism at the 2001 UN conference in Durban (see ASW 2001/2).75

In an interview Shaykh al-Azhar Muhammad Sayyid al-Tantawi also refuted the charge of anti-Semitism, arguing that it was invented by the Jews “as a means of pressuring Arabs and Muslims and implementing their conspiracies in the Arab and Muslim countries.” “I have proven that we were Semites even before they were,” he explained, and “it is inconceivable for anyone to show hostility toward himself.” 76

Majdi Salim compared The Protocols to Machiavelli’s The Prince, claiming that the two books had had a more destructive influence on the history of mankind than any other work.77 Yet, among supporters of the series, the issue of The Protocols’ authenticity was irrelevant in view of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.78 Al-Akhbar editor Wajih Abu Zikra, who persistently pursued an anti-Zionist rhetoric verging on anti-Semitism, best expressed this view in his article “The Truth of the Protocols of Zion.” He alleged that some of the guidelines of The Protocols were actually being applied, such as the principle of transfer and control of the media. A similar view was voiced by Egyptian General (Res.) and strategic expert Husam Suwaylam.79 Political Science Professor at Hilwan University Ahmad `Abbas `Abd al-Badi` claimed that The Protocols included all the dimensions of the Zionist plan and provided “a quick look” at “the hatred and rancor” that international Zionism concealed.80 Hala Fu’ad, in an article entitled “The Complete Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” resorted to early Arabic versions in her discussion. She quoted Lebanese author `Ajjaj Nuwayhidh, who wrote the introduction to one of the Arabic translations of The Protocols, as well as Egyptian author `Abbas Mahmud al-`Aqqad in his introduction to the 1951 version, in order to claim that they were written by the Jews. This contradicted the argument raised by some writers, she said, that since Palestine and the intention to establish a Jewish state were not mentioned in The Protocols, they could have been written by Jews.81

The debate, however, was not monolithic. As the controversy heightened and the pressure intensified, it revealed a growing sense of unease among Egyptian and other Arab intellectuals, scholars and writers. Their criticism focused on several issues: the series which purported to present historical truths, actually distorted the facts; The Protocols were a forgery and relying on them in the struggle against Israel and Zionism was counter-productive. Saudi columnist Dawud al-Shiryan challenged in his editorial “Freedom in Distress” in al-Sharq al-Awsat, the oft-cited argument regarding the right of freedom of expression, and stressed that as long as the Arab media remain “official,” the US and others would continue to interfere in its affairs.82 The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights condemned the transmission of the series, saying that while freedom of expression and artistic freedom must be protected, they should not be exploited “to disseminate facts and events that incite hatred based on religion, race, color or gender.” It also pointed out that most historians confirmed that The Protocols were a forgery, and called on Arab television channels that intended to broadcast the series to make this fact clear to viewers.83 The daughter of the hero Hafiz Najib, said that her father’s diaries mentioned neither The Protocols nor Israel.84 Egyptian intellectual Salah `Isa, interviewed by Amira Huweidy, described the work as “another commercial attempt to greedily invest in our national issues… in order to provoke the audience into a frenzy of exaggerated applause.” He even accused the government of manipulating the debate, saying that “by allegedly refusing to succumb to American-Israeli pressure, the government looks better and we are left to believe that we have achieved a victory of sorts.”85 Similarly, after watching the program Faruq Juwayda thought that there was much ado about nothing, and accused the Arabs of fighting their wars with television series.86

An Egyptian expert on Jewish studies known for his anti-Zionist stand, `Abd al-Wahhab al-Masiri, wrote an article for al-`Arabi as an introduction to the paper’s publication of The Protocols, asserting that they were a Russian forgery. Referring to some of the accusations found in them, he explained that they did not reflect criticism of the Jews but were an expression of “the sense of crisis of European man at the end of the 19th century” as a result of secularization and modernization. He challenged the notion that emerged from The Protocols of the enormous power of the Jews, stressing that since 586 BC they had lived as religious minorities. Using The Protocols to combat Zionism, he maintained, was unethical and racist, since it categorized people according to an absolute materialistic and secular principle and not according to their deeds. Even if they were authentic, those using them would lose their credibility in western public opinion because people in the West believe them to be a fake. Dissemination of The Protocols internationally served Zionist interests, and in the Arab world the ruling élite utilized them as a tool to justify Arab weakness and incompetence. The Talmud and the Qabala contain much more evidence of the conspiratorial and racist character of Jewish thought.87

Ma’mun Fendy, an Egyptian intellectual living in the US, accused Subhi of being an anti-Semite, who used The Protocols in an attempt to sensationalize for material gain. But his main criticism was directed at Arab writers and speakers who argued that Arabs were Semites and spoke of freedom of expression. When Arabs respond to the accusation of anti-Semitism with this argument, he claimed, “the West laughs,” because historically, “the ‘semitism’ in the term anti-Semitism” concerns the Jews and is associated with the Holocaust. Naturally, the Arabs were not the victims of Nazism, therefore when they resort to this argument they reveal their stupidity and “an attempt to push themselves into another history.” The Arabs are as aware as anyone else that this issue pertains to Jewish history in Nazi Germany and Europe; why then did they insist on using the word as an academic anthropological term that has nothing to do with the gas chambers, he asked. Moreover, he asked, why did they prefer to declare war against “the dead Jews, ‘the so called Jews of the Protocols,’ when they have a war with a live Israeli?” Arabs should not necessarily accept the Jews’ allegations against them, but they should understand the context in order to deal with them. The issue of anti-Semitism in the West is a very serious one, he concluded.88 Muhammad Sid Ahmad, a veteran Egyptian leftist attacked the publication of The Protocols by al-`Arabi, and warned that the confusion between Zionism and Judaism in the Arab world, so that “anti-Zionism is coming to acquire anti-Jewish connotations,” was dangerous and harmful to Jews and Arabs alike.89

Yet, the most comprehensive response to the series and the charge of Arab anti-Semitism was the well-publicized article of Usama al-Baz, personal advisor to Egyptian President Mubarak. In an apologetic three-part article, he offered an analysis of the history of anti-Semitism, debunking the myth of The Protocols, the blood libel and Holocaust denial. He concluded with practical suggestions for Arabs, Muslims, Israel and its supporters that could lead to better understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict and to its solution. Frequent usage of inhuman, racist and outmoded accusations by the Arabs, he maintained, only harmed their interests and criticism of Israel and Zionism should not be confused with attacks on Jews and Judaism. Touching upon The Protocols, he explained that most of the evidence confirmed that they were fabricated. He pointed to two aspects to prove his claim. First, most of the topics raised in them were Russian, reflecting the views of the Russian ruling class. Second, they made the Jews simultaneously responsible for good and evil, for revolution and counter-revolution, for capitalism and communism. He also stressed that “Hitler used The Protocols to incite the German people against the Jews, and to claim that they were conspiring against him,” and were striving to destroy the German economy and the German state in collaboration with foreign elements. He did this in order to achieve his aspirations and to cleanse Germany and the occupied countries of their Jews, which led to “the extermination of a large number of European Jews and their physical destruction.” He also suggested that Arabs should differentiate between Zionists and Jews, cease attributing to Jews conspiratorial traits and expressing sympathy for Hitler and Nazism, and avoid the pitfalls of anti-Semitic slurs when criticizing Israel.90

The article sparked a new debate, again exposing two camps. One supported al-Baz’ thesis, admitting that the Arab discourse on the conflict was replete with anti-Semitic motifs and agreeing that it was the wrong weapon. The second opposed his interpretation, rejecting the notion of Arab anti-Semitism and any reconciliation with the existence of Israel.91 Professor of Hebrew Studies at al-Shams University Layla Ibrahim Abu al-Majd praised al-Baz for his learned analysis but took issue with his suggestion to differentiate between Zionism and Judaism. He claimed that since the establishment of the State of Israel the term anti-Semitism implied anti-Zionism and there was no way to make a distinction between them.92

 

Conclusion

The hardening of rhetoric and the rise in incitement, as well as the culture of hate cherished over the years not only breed hatred but reflect a prevailing mood in the Arab world in relation to Israel, the US and perhaps western civilization as a whole. Scott Macleod reported from Cairo that some critics believed that the Arab reflex to blame Jews was rooted in military humiliations, economic stagnation and repressive rule. “Arab society is broken in back and spirit,” he quoted Fawaz Turki, a columnist for the Saudi daily Arab News, who considered this the reason for the flourishing of conspiracy theories. “It is comforting to say, ‘It is not our fault’,” he explained. Notwithstanding, Macleod also reported that a study of Egypt’s press concluded that “while anti-Semitism existed, it was by no means prevalent,” and that the Egyptian media’s daily barrage of criticism of Israel “is not an expression of anti-Semitism but of strong political disagreement.”93

Yet, veteran historian of Islam and the Middle East Bernard Lewis is concerned that the “Arab strain of racism, untruths and hatred against Jews and Israel is not only more virulent than its European counterpart, but is not counterbalanced by true scholarship or competing reason.” As a result, he believes, attitudes and beliefs “long discredited in the modernity of western countries take root with gullible, impressionable Middle Eastern audiences from a pre-modern culture.”94

The linkage between anti-Semitic invective and its translation into action made particularly by Islamists led observers and researchers to the conclusion that Arab/Islamic anti-Semitism bore the “malignancy of genocidal anti-Semitism.” Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, asserted that terrorism and anti-Semitism were part of the same totalitarian ideology of militant Islam, and hence should not be looked at in isolation. Robert Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of anti-Semitism, considers Islamic fundamentalism the biggest threat to the world since Nazism; he also believes that Arab anti-Semitism constitutes the “single biggest impediment to peace in the Middle East.”95 The London-based former Hamas activist and director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought Azzam Tamimi refuted Wistrich’s warnings, suggesting that Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims in the West refrain from proposing a final solution and concentrate on demonstrating the “sinister nature of Zionism.” “The Zionist state, by its very nature,” is unviable in the long run, he said, reiterating the conclusions reached by a conference held in Johannesburg [no date mentioned] under the banner of “Justice for Palestine.” Therefore, the ultimate objective should be to set in motion “a global movement for combating Zionism similar to the international anti-apartheid movement.”96

Arab writers claimed that anti-Semitic language in the Arab media did not occur in a vacuum.97 Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayrah attributed it to “Israel’s murderous oppression of the Palestinian people.” Zionists and their supporters should not be surprised, he said, about the proliferation of anti-Semitism among Arabs and Muslims.98 The confusion of certain verses of the Qur’an attacking the Jews of that day, commented Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University Sayyid Husayn Nasr, is “a modern development, less theological than emotional, and leaves as a casualty a long tradition of amity between Islam and Judaism.”99

Usama al-Baz’s article was the first admission and condemnation of anti-Semitism in the Arab world and, coming from an official of his stature had special significance. If accompanied by changes in the language of discourse toward Israel and in education, it might also lead to a change in patterns of thought and in the general mood of the “Arab street.” It might also undermine the ground under the feet of Islamic extremism and delegitimize genocidal anti-Semitism. Al-Baz was not alone in his criticism, and he was not only responding to American and Jewish pressures. In the aftermath of September 11 and almost three years since the outbreak of the intifada, the Arab-Muslim world, as Thomas Friedman noted, had entered a phase of introspection, after the first stages of shock and denial.100 “As was the case after the defeat of 1967, self-criticism has once again crept into the Arab political and intellectual discourse,” wrote As`ad `Abd al-Rahman.101 Despite the continued demonization of the West and particularly the US and the continued denial of Muslim responsibility for September 11, “a genuine polemic against the harm the terrorists are doing to their own people” is emerging, wrote Salman Rushdie.102 A glimpse into this debate is provided by articles such as those of `Abd al-Hamid al-Bakkush, former Libyan prime minister, who attacked the Arab fixation with the US; al-Sharq al-Awsat editor `Abd al-Rahman al-Rasid attacked Arab support for European neo-Nazis and racists merely because they shared the Arab view on Israel or the war in Iraq; a Muslim intellectual and grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt criticized anti-Semitism among Muslims in France; and Arab liberals such as Qatari Professor `Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari, Tunisian intellectual `Afif al-Akhdar and Egyptian author Amin al-Mahdi attacked the brand of Islam that encouraged extremism and issued religious edicts justifying terrorism and suicide bombings.103

 

NOTES



1. New York Times (NYT), 27 April 2002.

2. Jerusalem Report, 16 Dec. 2002.

3. The Times, 28 June 2002.

4. Yediot Aharonot, 8 May 2002.

5. al-Hayat, 11 April 2002.

6. al-Ra’y, 25 Jan. 2002.

7. al-Akhbar, al-Quds al-`Arabi, 1 Feb.; al-Ahram, 2 Feb. See also: MEMRI, Special Dispatch no. 341, 5 Feb.; al-`Arabi, 1 Dec. 2002.

8. al-Wafd, 24 Jan. 2002.

9. al-Watan, 17 March; Oct., 14 April; al-Usbu`, 30 Sept.; al-Ahram, 16 Oct.; al-Safir, 21 Nov.; Oct., 24 Nov.; Ma`ariv, 2 Dec. 2002.

10. al-Ahram, 26 Jan. 2002.

11. MEMRI, Special Dispatch no. 438, 8 Nov. 2002.

12. al-Midan, 2 Jan. 2003.

13. al-Sabil, 5 Nov. 2002.

14. NYT, 15 Feb.; Time, 17 June; The Times, 28 June 2002.

15. al-Ahram al-Masa’, 4, 5 Aug. 2002.

16. www.lailatalqadr.com/15 July; Saudi Gazette, 24 May; Asrar al-Quds, no. 34, April, as quoted in MEMRI, “The Events of Sept. 11 and the Arab Media: The New anti-Semitic Myth,” Special Report, No. 9, 13 Sept. 2002.

17. al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 6 Sept.; al-Quds, 9 Sept., as quoted in MEMRI, “The Events of Sept. 11 and the Arab Media,” op. cit.

18. al-`Arab al-Yawm, 7, 8 Jan.; al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 7 March; Akhir Sa`a, 29 May; al-Hayat, 30 Sept.; Bahrain Tribune, 16 Nov.; Gulf News, 26 Nov.; Review, Dec. See also, MEMRI, “The Events of Sept. 11 and the Arab Media, op. cit.

19. “The Jews in the Arab World,” 17 June, Eminent Arab Scholars Speak at Seminar on Semitism, 28 Aug.; “Palestinian Minster of Endowments and Preacher of al-Aqsa at ZCCF, 20 Nov. - www.zccf.org.ae/LECTURES/E2-lectures; Khaleej Times, CNSNews, 29 Aug.; Gulf News, 30 Aug., 23 Nov., 7 Dec.; Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug., 1 Sept. 2002.

20. al-Ahram, 18 Jan.; al-Akhbar, 22 Feb. 2002.

21. JTA, 19 April 2002.

22. Tom Lantos, MEMRI Special Report, No. 8, 10 Sept. 2002.

23. al-Ahram, 20 Sept.; al-Usbu`, 23 Sept.; al-Quds al-`Arabi, 26 Sept. See also MEMRI, “US Ambassador to Cairo Takes on Conspiracy Theories in the Egyptian Press,” Special Dispatch, no. 423, 1 Oct. 2002.

24. Ha`aretz, 31 March; 2, 4, 5, 8 April; al-Usbu`, 30 Sept.; al-Sabil, 5, 19 Nov. 2002.

25. Tishrin, 2 April 2002.

26. al-Mustaqbal, 22 Jan. (Mideast Mirror); Ha`aretz, 5 April; al-Ahram Weekly, 11 April 2002.

27. al-Hayat, 22 Jan. 2002 (Mideast Mirror).

28. al-Ahram, 19 Jan.; al-Wafd, al-Quds al-`Arabi, 22 Jan. (Mideast Mirror); al-Akhbar, 22 Feb.; al-`Arab al-Yawm, 5 March; al-Sabil, 21 May 2002.

29. al-Ahram, 5 June 2002.

30. al-Raya, 22 Jan. 2002 (Mideast Mirror).

31. Tishrin, 7 Jan. 2002.

32. Statement from the National Arab Journalists Association on the Terrorist Acts of the Government of Israel, 19 Jan. 2002 (MSANEWS). For further comparisons see, al-Hayat, 7 Aug. 2002.

33. al-Ahram Weekly, 26 Sept., al-Hayat, 30 Sept. 2002.

34. al-`Arab al-Yawm, 5 March. See also Rif`at Sayyid Ahmad, “Sharon, Netanyahu and Mofaz Alliance - The New Nazis in Israel,” 13 Nov. 2002 - www.alarabonline.org.

35. al-Ahram, 13, 19 March, 1 July 2002.

36. al-Musawar, 12 April; See also al-Ahram al-`Arabi, 26 Oct. 2002.

37. al-Ahram, 20 April; al-Quds al-`Arabi, 23 April; Ruz al-Yusuf, 3, 10 May 2002.

38. al-Ahram, 5 June 2002.

39. Ruz al-Yusuf, 13 April; al-Mujtama`, 22 June 2002.

40. al-Ahram, 20 April 2002.

41. al-Akhbar, 29 April. See also MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 375, 3 May 2002.

42. Additional articles on Holocaust denial see also: Tishrin, 28 Feb.; al-Akhbar, 9, 18 April, 21 June; al-Ahram al-`Arabi, 26 Oct. 2002.

43. AP, 9 Feb. (Yahoo News); Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, 14 April, 4 Nov., 2, 11, 15 Dec. 2002.

44. Ha`aretz, 9 May 2002.

45. al-Jazira (Saudi Arabia), 1 April - MEMRI, dispatch no. 367, 12 April 2002.

46. al-Quds al-`Arabi, 23 April - MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 373, 30 April; The Times, 28 June 2002.

47. MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 83, 12 Feb.; MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 363, 7 April; Ha`aretz, 27, 29 March, 1 April, 16 June; Yediot Aharonot, 4 April, 1 May; NYT, 15 April; al-Ayyam (PA), 4 June - MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 100, 4 July; Jerusalem Post (JP), 18 June; Ma`ariv, 18 Oct. 2002.

48. al-`Arab al-Yawm, 9 Feb.; Ha`aretz, 10 Feb., 8 March; MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 83, 12 Feb. Egyptian editor of al-Ahram Hebdo, Muhammad Salmawi, published a book on the first Palestinian female suicide bomber Wafa’ Idris and other Palestinian stories in 2002, see Reuven Erlich (ed.), ‘“Hate Industry” in Egypt under Official Patronage’, Information Bulletin No. 7 (Jan. 2003).

49. al-Sabil, 29 Jan., 12 May; al-`Arab al-Yawm, 10 Feb., 17 March; MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 363, 7 April; al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 22 March 2002.

50. Islam Online, 27 May (www.islamonline.net). See also MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 403, 24 July 2002. Shehada was assassinated in July.

51. Islam Online, 4 June (www.islamonline.net). See also an extensive interview with Qaradawi in al-Ahram al-`Arabi, 26 Oct. 2002.

52. al-Akhbar, 27 Feb.; Reuters, 31 March (news.ajeeb.com/ViewArticle.asp); MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 100, 4 July 2002.

53. Ma`ariv, 15 Nov. 2002.

54. NYT, 23 April 2002.

55. al-Sharq al-Awsat, 7 June. See also MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 388, 12 June 2002.

56. Ma`ariv, 23 May, 15 Oct., 8 Dec.; Washington Times, 8 July; JP, 11 July; USA Today, 9 July; Yediot Aharonot, 14 Nov., 6, 8 Dec.; Ha’aretz, 6 Dec. 2002; al-Jazira, 11 Feb.; al-Quds al-`Arabi, 21 Feb.; MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 476, 5 March 2003.

57. Ha’aretz, 12, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23 April, 24 June; NYT, 13, 15 April, 23 June, 6 Nov.; Ma`ariv, 14 April; Yediot Aharonot, 14, 18 April; Washington Post (WP), 17 April; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 25 April; al-Hayat, 2 June 2002.

58. Ma`ariv, 29 Nov., 1 Dec.; Yediot Aharonot, 29 Nov., 1, 3 Dec.; “On the Two Mombassa Attacks against the Jews,” 2 Dec. (forum.fwaed.net); Ha’aretz, 3 Dec.; MEMRI, Special Alert, No. 5, 4 Dec. 2002.

59. New York Daily News, 8 Dec.; Jerusalem Report, 16 Dec. 2002.

60. al-Ahram, 14 Sept.; Ma`ariv, 15 Oct. 2002.

61. al-Ahram, 19 Jan.; al-Akhbar, 10 May; Time, 17 June 2002.

62. al-Hayat, 15 May, 21 Oct.; JP, 1 Oct.; Ha`aretz, 30 Oct. See also MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 99, 28 June; Special Dispatch, No. 432, 22 Oct. 2002.

63. al-Riyadh, 3, 10 March; LA Times, 20 March; MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 354, 357, 13, 21 March; al-Thawra (Baghdad), 3 May 2002.

64. al-Ahram, 31 July, 31 Dec.; al-Ahram Weekly, 8 Aug. 2002.

65. al-Ahram, 4, 6, 7 Aug.; MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 107, 6 Sept. 2002, No. 135, 23 April 2003.

66. al-Ahram, 1 Aug. 2002.

67. al-Ahram, 4, 6, 7 Aug.; MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 107, 6 Sept. 2002.

68. Ma`ariv, 31 Oct., 4 Nov.; NYT, 1 Nov.; WP, 5, 9, 15, 26 Nov.; Palestinian Media Watch, 6, 12, 14, 15, 17, 21, 24, 26 Nov.; MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 113, 20 Nov.; ABC News, 21 Nov. 2002.

69. BBC News, 1 Nov.; al-Musawwar, 8 Nov.; WP, 9 Nov.; The Times, 15 Nov.; Ha’aretz, 26 Nov. 2002.

70. al-Sharq al-Awsat, 3 Nov.; al-Safir, 25 Nov. 2002; Yigal Carmon, “Harbingers of Change in the anti-Semitic Discourse in the Arab World,” MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis series, No. 135, 23 April 2003.

71. NYT, 23 Oct., 20, 27 Nov.; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 1 Nov.; al-Jumhuriya, 2 Nov.; Middle East Online, 2 Nov. (www.middle-eastonline.com); al-Usbu`, 4 Nov.; Yediot Aharonot, 27 Nov. See also, MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis series, No. 109 - 8 Nov. 2002.

72. al-Ahram, 6 Nov.; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 8 Nov.; MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis series, No. 113, 114 - 20 Nov., 10 Dec.; al-Wafd, 26 Dec. 2002; al-Ahali, 1 Jan. 2003; Carmon, “Harbingers of Change.”

73. al-`Arabi, 24 Nov.; 1 Dec. 2002.

74. Carmon, “Harbingers of Change.”

75. al-Riyadh, 5 Nov. 2002.

76. Akhir Sa`a, 20 Nov. 2002.

77. `Aqidati, 5 Nov. 2002.

78. al-Usbu` al-Adabi, 2 Nov.; al-Musawwar, 8 Nov.; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 11 Nov. (Mideast Mirror); Akhir Sa`a, 13 Nov. 2002.

79. al-Hayat, 11 Dec.; al-Akhbar, 24 Dec. 2002.

80. al-Ahram, 11 Dec. 2002.

81. Akhir Sa`a, 13 Nov. 2002.

82. al-Hayat, 1, 3, 6 Nov.; al-Ahram, 6 Nov.; al-Safir, 25 Nov.; al-Wafd, 5, 19 Dec.; al-Musawwar, 20 Dec. 2002.

83. al-Sharq al-Awsat, 19 Nov. 2002.

84. al-Musawwar, 15 Nov. 2002.

85. al-Ahram Weekly, 7 Nov. 2002.

86. al-Ahram, 29 Nov. 2002.

87. al-`Arabi, 24 Nov. 2002. Masiri published a two-part article in the same vein in al-Ahram, 2, 9 Jan. 2003.

88. al-Sharq al-Awsat, 11 Nov.; CounterPunch, 13 Nov. 2002 (www.counterpunch.org).

89. al-Ahram, al-Ahram Weekly, 12 Dec. 2002.

90. al-Ahram, 23-25 Dec.; Ha’aretz, 27 Dec.; Yediot Aharonot, 28, 29 Dec.; WP, 30 Dec. 2002. See also MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 454 3 Jan. 2002; Carmon, “Harbingers of Change.”

91. al-Ahram, 28, 31 Dec. 2002; al-Midan, 2 Jan. 2003.

92. al-Ahram, 4 Jan. 2003.

93. Time, 17 June 2002.

94. Israelinsider, 10 Jan. (web.israelinsider.com/bin/en.jsp).

95. Ha’aretz, JTA, 7 May 2002.

96. Azzam Tamimi, “Winning the Battle of Arguments,” 30 Sept. 2002 (MSANEWS).

97. al-Ahram Weekly, 8 Aug. 2002.

98. Khalid Amayreh, “Jewish Islamophobia, Persecution of Palestinians Is Breeding Anti-Semitism among Muslims, 27 Nov. 2002 (MSANEWS).

99. NYT, 27 April 2002.

100. NYT, 8 Jan. 2003.

101. al-Ra’y, 25 Jan. 2002.

102. WP, 28 June 2002.

103. al-Hayat, 13 Jan., 12 Feb., 14 July, 9 Sept.; Ha’aretz, 18 Jan., 16, 26 May; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 24 April 2002

 Source - http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2002-3/arab.htm

 

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