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Report: Arab Anti-Semitism 2003-4

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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 


Report: Arab Anti-Semitism 2003-2004

On 13 and 14 December the International Campaign against US and Zionist Occupations (ICAUZO) organized a conference, gathering hundreds of Arab and international activists under the slogan “Yes to resistance in Palestine and Iraq. No to capitalist globalization and US hegemony.” The group had organized the first conference in Cairo a year earlier in the run up to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The conference, wrote prominent Egyptian journalist Amira Howeidy, “had all the ingredients of a successful anti-war event. But it wasn’t,” since it failed to attract large audiences. However, it highlighted two aspects: the fact that Iraq and Palestine have become the “symbols of the anti-globalization movement,” as Jordanian Islamist activist Layth Shubaylat declared, and the new alliance between international and Arab activists, particularly left-wing and Islamic currents. The four-page draft Cairo Declaration issued by the conference reiterated its slogan and hailed the “heroic intifada,” as well as Iraqi resistance. (al-Ahram Weekly, 27 Nov., 18 Dec.) The three themes which preoccupied the conference – the intifada, the war in Iraq and globalization – were not new. The war in Iraq (March–May) and its occupation by Anglo-American forces, as part of the war on terrorism waged by the US, converged in the year 2003 with the continued Palestinian-Israeli war to reinforce anti-American sentiments and anti-Semitic manifestations (see ASW 2000/1, 2001/2, 2002/3).

The US has dissipated the sympathy it won in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, wrote ‘Ali Hamada in the Lebanese mainstream daily al-Nahar. Because of the enormous pressure the US is exerting on the world, “this sympathy is being transformed into the seeds of hatred and loathing” (al-Nahar, 18 March [Mideast Mirror].) Indeed, this view was reflected in polls and surveys carried out among Arab and Muslim countries. The Pew Research Center in the US released in early June a report based on a global opinion survey which found a marked increase in Muslim hostility since the summer of 2002. In traditionally pro-American Jordan, 97 percent of those polled opposed America’s ‘war on terror’; in Turkey, 83 percent expressed an unfavorable opinion of the US; Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan and the PA evinced a similar trend. Moreover, over fifty percent of those surveyed in Indonesia, Jordan and the PA, and almost fifty percent of those surveyed in Pakistan and Morocco, selected Usama Bin Ladin as one of the three world figures they would most trust to “do the right thing” in world affairs. They also expressed disbelief in the possibility of coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians (Morocco – 90 percent, Jordan – 85 percent, PA – 80 percent, Kuwait – 72 percent, Lebanon – 65 percent, Indonesia – 58 percent and Pakistan – 57 percent). A 2003 Zogby international poll found that over 75 percent of Saudis and Jordanians, 72 percent of Moroccans and over 50 percent of Egyptians and Lebanese, believed that the US had attacked Iraq in order to gain control of its oil and to help Israel. (Ha’aretz, 9 June; al-Ahram Weekly, 12 June; Henry Munson, “Lifting the Veil. Understanding the Roots of Islamic Militancy,” Harvard International Review [Winter 2004], p. 21–2.)

These sentiments reflected one, albeit major, trend which strengthened the dichotomy between Islam and the West, and which stems perhaps from a strong feeling of humiliation and despair, resistance to the American attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq and to the Israeli occupation, and denial of Arab and Muslim involvement in terror. However, another trend was also discernible, characterized by a wave of soul-searching, rejection of conspiracies as the explanation for the dire state of the Arab and Muslim worlds and a demand for far-reaching reforms and democratization.

Notwithstanding, the Arab world remained a hotbed for the cultivation of anti-Semitism. This chapter is divided into four sections:

· anti-Semitic Manifestations in Reaction to Current Developments

· Terrorist Acts against Jewish Targets as Part of Jihad

· Continued Popularization of anti-Semitic Motifs

· Arab Responses to Accusations of anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitic Manifestations in Response to Current Events

A deep sense of humiliation and defeat mixed with hope for change, reminiscent of the mood after the June 1967 defeat, typified the Arab response to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on 19 March. After Baghdad, the capital of the early Muslim Empire, had capitulated into the hands of apostates, their feelings were expressed in endless articles, caricatures, TV talk shows, hit songs and religious sermons, which denounced and villified the US administration and its partners the British, as well as Israel and the Jews. Hence the year 2003 marked a continuation of the trend which began with the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000 and was exacerbated by the events of 11 September 2001 (see ASW 2000/1, 2001/2, 2002/3). It reinforced total identification between the US and Israel as well as the notions of conspiracy and of Jewish/Zionist control of American foreign policy and the media. The attack on Iraq was represented as a Crusader war against Muslims to satisfy Israeli interests and American oil needs, and the UN was called upon to prosecute the American administration as war criminals (Washington Post [WP], 11 March; Ha’aretz, 14, 25 April, 16 Dec.). Although suicide operations against civilian targets inside Israel, as well as incitement against Israel both in Palestinian TV programs and in public statements, continued (Y. Yehoshua and B. Tchernitsky, “Incitement in the Palestinian Authority after the Aqaba Summit” – MEMRI, Special Report No. 20, 22 Aug.), anti-Semitic manifestations directly linked to the intifada diminished somewhat in the Palestinian and general Arab media. It seems that the war in Iraq provided a new and perhaps more crucial trigger for such expressions.

Two religious dimensions motivate American foreign policy in the Middle East, wrote Muhammad al-Sammak in the Lebanese mainstream daily al-Mustaqbal. The first is the Jewish religious dimension represented by the Zionist movement and its tool the AIPAC organization, which constitutes the long arm of the Jewish lobby in the US. The second is the messianic religious dimension represented by the movement known as Messianic Zionism, which encompasses about 70 million committed American evangelists. The most dangerous activity of both movements, he claimed, is their exploitation of religion in politics, even if this requires the invention and sanctification of new religious understandings to conform to political needs (al-Mustaqbal, 3 June.). President Bush, PM Sharon and British PM Blair were described as the “triangle of terror and evil” and “bloodthirsty beasts” (Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, 5 Nov.). A caricature in an Egyptian mainstream daily depicted Sharon as cheerfully beating the drum of war, his hands dripping blood and the drumsticks engraved with a Star of David and a swastika, while skulls lay scattered under his feet (al-Jumhuriya, 20 Jan.). In another caricature in an Egyptian opposition paper, he was portrayed as a beast with two horns and sharp teeth leading Bush and Blair on a chain to Iraq. His tie was adorned with a swastika and all three was carrying daggers (al-Wafd, 8 March).

Typical of the Arab rhetoric, Palestinian preacher Shaykh Ibrahim Madayris described the attack on Iraq in a Friday sermon at the `Ijlin Mosque in Gaza, broadcast live on Palestinian Authority TV on 21 March, as “a Crusader Zionist war.” The Crusader, “Zionist America,” he stated, had initiated an attack on “Iraq of Islam and Arabism,” thus expanding the limited notion of the war to Arabs, Muslims and Islam at large (MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 486, 25 March. See also Special Dispatch No. 484, 485, 21, 23 March; New York Times (NYT), 29 March). Muslim clerics such as Shaykh al-Azhar Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the highest religious authority in the Sunni world, Syrian Mufti Shaykh Ahmad Kaftaru, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qardawi from the University of Qatar considered the spiritual leader of Sunni fundamentalists, Lebanese Shi’i religious leader Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, and the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad ‘Umar, called for jihad against the US and other coalition forces fighting in Iraq. They urged resistance and suicide attacks against the invaders, defining death in the war as martyrdom. Qardawi explained that resisting the Americans was first and foremost the duty of all Iraqis, and if they failed, it became a jihad – a duty incumbent upon every Muslim (Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity (ISIC), ISIC Briefing, Nos. 17, 18, 3 March, 11 April; WP, 11 March; Ha’aretz, 23 March; al-Jazira, 27 March (Internet); al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 29 March; al-Hayat, 1, 5, 6 April; MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, Nos. 130, 145, 8 April, 14 Aug.; Islam Online, 10 March [www.islam-online.net]). Al-Qa’ida leader Usama Bin Ladin and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri issued several calls urging Muslim youths to join the guerrilla war against “the Crusaders and the Jews” and to kill Americans and Jews everywhere, in retaliation for their campaign against the Muslims. These messages were disseminated on the eve of the war and during the year on tapes broadcast by al-Jazira satellite TV and on the organization’s site. “The Crusaders and the Jews understand only the language of killing and blood,” said the speaker, believed to be Ayman al-Zawahiri, in an audiotape broadcast on 21 May after the fall of Baghdad. In another tape broadcast on 18 October, Bin Ladin accused the Jews of pushing the US to support Israel and attack Islam, and threatened to continue terrorist attacks until the American administration changed its ways (Yedi‘ot Aharonot, 21 Jan.; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 22 Feb.; NYT, 22 May; Ha’aretz, 11 Sept., 19 Oct.; Ma‘ariv, 19 Oct. See also: MEMRI, Special Dispatch, Nos. 476, 493, 5 March, 11 April). Aware of this prevailing perception of the war among Arabs and Muslims, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and Egyptian intellectuals warned that the US attack on Iraq might lead to the creation of 100 Bin Ladins (al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 15 March; WP, 1 April; Ma‘ariv, 4 April).

The indignity of Saddam Husayn’s capture on 14 December (in the hole where he had been hiding, his poor physical shape, his surrender without “a single shot being fired,” and his public subjection to a physical examination) added to the Arab sense of humiliation and despair, and reinforced conspiracy theories. The arrest “without resistance, hiding in a small and filthy hole,” wrote the editor of the London-based pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-‘Arabi ‘Abd al-Bari ‘Atwan, “was most likely an act” and a “finely preconceived operation.” “It’s a farce,” said Egyptian economics professor Jalal Amin, from the American University in Cairo. Saudi dailies al-Riyadh and al-‘Ukkaz also considered his public exposure “a show” produced by the Americans and blamed his second wife for divulging the information that led to his arrest, for which she was allegedly awarded $25 million (al-Quds al-‘Arabi, al-Riyadh, al-‘Ukkaz, 15 Dec.; MEMRI, Special Dispatch – Iraq, No. 628., 16 Dec. See also Special Dispatch No. 629, 17 Dec.; Nimrod Raphaeli, “Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Saddam’s Capture,” Inquiry and Analysis, No. 155, 19 Dec.; NYT, 15 Dec., al-Ahram Weekly, 18 Dec.).

“One of the greatest myths emerging from the Iraq war,” wrote Israeli Middle East expert Barry Rubin in an e-mail message of 6 April, “was that it was launched by a ‘neo-conservative’ cabal in the US government. ‘Neo-conservative’ is a codeword for Jewish, and the implication, he suggested, was that it was “a Jewish-led movement conducted not in the interests of the American people but of the Jews and Israel (H-anti-Semitism discussion network – www.h-net.org/~antis). The Jewish connection to the war and the notion that the US-led invasion was part of a Jewish conspiracy were indeed prominent in the Arab and Muslim discourse on the war. Israel was accused of exploiting the war in its own struggle against the Palestinians. Israel not only taught the Americans its “barbaric methods” but began a systematic policy of transfer of Palestinians. Moreover, Jews and Israelis were believed to have invaded Iraq with the American forces (al-Jumhuriya, 30 Jan.; al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 1 Feb., 26 April, 3 May, 13 Sept.; al-Hayat al-Jadida, 1 March; Ma‘ariv, 25 March; al-Sabil, 22 April; Tehran Times, 1 Sept.). Freelance Israeli journalist Nir Rosen, who has been living in Baghdad since April 2003, reported on Iraqi panic about a Jewish invasion, spread by local newspapers, by imams in mosques and by rumor since the summer of 2003. He quoted the independent Sunni paper al-Sa‘ah, which warned Iraqis to check Chinese-made appliances for concealed Stars of David after suspecting that Israelis were selling the products in Iraq. Another daily, al-Yawm al-Akhir, he wrote, reported that “the frantic campaign to resettle the Jews [in Iraq] has aroused the ire of Iraqis, particularly the clerics.” Al-‘Adala, a newspaper published by the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, warned that “a number of Jews are attempting to purchase factories in Baghdad,” while Mosul’s association of clerics issued an edict prohibiting the sale of land to non-Iraqis lest it ended up in the hands of Jews. These accounts, claimed Rosen, were taken quite seriously, reflecting deep-seated anti-Semitic stereotypes. (Nir Rosen, “Babylonian Hostility,” March 2004 – www.reason.com).

Rosen’s account only confirmed other reports of rumors that many American soldiers were Jews and that Jews were involved in the purchase of property in Iraq. “Jews are buying real estate, homes, shops and agricultural fields, using fake names, in order to do to us what they did with Palestine,” claimed preacher Tha’ir Ibrahim al-Shumari, at the Mother of All Battles Mosque in Baghdad (quoted by Associated Press [AP], 20 June). He warned Iraqis not to sell any property. Similar warnings were reportedly plastered on the walls of the city university, and in leaflets signed by “a jealous citizen,” who urged them not to sell no matter how high the price, because the Jews were behind it (Ha’aretz, 17 June; AP, 20 June; Ma‘ariv, 11 July).

On 19 July, the Saudi daily al-Watan published an article by Umaya Ahmad al-Jalahma from Faysal University entitled, “The Jewish Scenario Repeats Itself.” Alluding to the purchase of lands in mandatory Palestine by Jewish settlers, she claimed that the Jewish Agency was striving to purchase Iraqi land, buildings and lots from their owners, in order to expand Jewish settlement on Iraqi soil as a step toward the realization of Greater Israel (al-Watan, 19 July – MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 547, 5 Aug.). The Israelis have benefited most from the occupation of Iraq, added Egyptian columnist Wajih Abu Zikra in the mainstream daily al-Akhbar, stressing the possibility of Jewish Kurds returning to northern Iraq to gain control of Iraqi oil. In June veteran Egyptian writer Anis Mansur claimed in his column in the leading paper al-Ahram that Iraqi Jews were the ones who managed Iraq’s affairs. “They designed, planned, proceeded, administered, decided and settled.” In November, chief editor of the Egyptian weekly al-Usbu’, Mustafa Bakri even warned of the danger of an American Zionist plot to found a new Jewish state in Iraq (al-Ahram, 5 June; al-Akhbar, 11 July; al-Usbu’, 10 Nov. See also al-Ahram, 7 July).

Israel was also accused of being responsible for the looting of museums and banks in Baghdad. Egyptian pro-Islamist Mustafa Mahmud explained in al-Ahram that the looting was intended to erase all traces of Babylonian history, which was an era of shame and disgrace in Jewish history since the kings of Israel had surrendered to and were subjugated by the Babylonian king. A similar view appeared in another article published in April in the Egyptian weekly al-Ahram al-‘Arabi. (al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 26 April; MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 501, 7 May; al-Ahram, 10 May). Israel was later blamed, by Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Buthayna Sha’ban, for the bombing of the UN headquarters on 19 August, which claimed 23 lives, including that of UN envoy Sergio de Mello (Tishrin, 24 Aug. - MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 565, 4 Sept.).

The crash of the space shuttle Columbia on 2 February 2003 and the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks provided additional occasions for the exposure of anti-American sentiments and for the resurfacing of conspiracy theories implicating the Jews in these events. Although there were expressions of sorrow and shock, the shuttle disaster was seen by many Arabs, interviewed by New York Times correspondent Neil MacFarquhar, as divine retribution against the US for its ongoing preparations for war against Iraq. The fact that an Israeli colonel, Ilan Ramon, was on board and that the shuttle began disintegrating over Palestine, Texas, was further proof that God was sending a message (NYT, 3 Feb.; WorldNetDaily, 6 Feb. –www.worldnetdaily.com; Ha’aretz, 20 Feb. See also: MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 123, 7 Feb.). Ramon’s death was “enough to arouse joy in every heart that beats Arabism and Islam,” wrote the United Emirates‘ daily al-Bayan. (al-Bayan, 3 Feb. – MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 122, 6 Feb.). Druze Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt admitted that the crash delighted him because one of the victims was an Israeli, adding that the true axis of evil ruling the world was one of “oil and Jews” (Daily Star, 3, 8 Feb.). Islamist websites were naturally those offering abundant displays of metaphysical theories for the shuttle disaster. In a posting from 1 February, Shaykh ‘Ali Tamimi, an American citizen, wrote that the crash of the Columbia, was a “powerful sign that the supremacy of the West, and particularly that of the US, which began 500 years ago [with the discovery of the American continent by Columbus and the collapse of the Muslim Empire in Grenada]” was “about to fall precipitously, like the shuttle.” Simultaneously, with the burnt hopes and aspirations of the Israeli astronaut, he trusted that those of the Israeli people would be burned and that “the Jews on whom Allah has cast humiliation and misery,” would be struck by divine wrath as prophesied in the Qur’an (www.alfajr.com – MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis, No. 122, 6 Feb.).

Conspiracy theories which emerged after the September 11 events continued to flourish and even gained currency among intellectuals in the Arab world. A group of Egyptian strategists expressed the gist of this discourse in the mainstream weekly Akhir Sa‘ah on the eve of the second anniversary of the attacks. They agreed unanimously that the attacks were “an American pretext for dictating the course of events in the 21st century for the sake of its interests as the only world power and for the sake of its ally, international Zionism.” All subsequent events – the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and the declared war on terrorism – they said, had been preconceived since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, when the US had targeted Islam and Islamist groups as its major enemy and embarked on a Crusader war. The attacks were planned by Americans and Jews in order to serve as a means of enhancing American hegemony and control over economic resources, first and foremost, oil and Israeli interests. Moreover, added Lebanese writer ‘Isam Mahfuz, in the London-based al-Hayat in June, the Islamist militants had played into the hands of the US, and by sacrificing themselves buried their real, major problem in Palestine. Now that the definition of acts of Bin Ladin’s World Islamic Front for Jihad as terrorist had been expanded to include Palestinian suicide operations, the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupier had been curtailed (al-Hayat, 22 June; Akhir Sa‘ah, 10 Sept.; Ha’aretz, 12 Sept.; al-Watan, 11 Sept., 3 Nov. See also al-Hayat, 26, 27 July.). In the same vein, several caricatures in the Palestinian media depicted the true victims of the Twin Towers attack as the Palestinians and Iraq, or the Arabs and Muslims, as a result of the September 11 conspiracy against them (al-Quds, 12 Sept.; al-Hayat al-Jadida, 12, 13 Sept. See also Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, 16 Sept.).

These perceptions may perhaps explain why the architect of the attacks, Usama Bin Ladin, who is still on the run, as well as the 19 perpetrators, continue to have such appeal to young Muslims. According to a report in the Pakistani Daily Times, “his sunken eyes gaze out from the covers of video CDs and books; his gaunt face and wispy beard are emblazoned on T-shirts and posters,” and Usama dolls sit astride toy tanks (www.dailytimes.com.pk – MSANEWS, 25 Feb.]). Even among British Muslims, followers of the Islamist movements Hizb ut-Tahrir and its offspring al-Muhajiroun, the perpetrators of the attacks are perceived as heroes. Al-Muhajiroun was planning to hold a conference on 11 September 2003, entitled “The Magnificent 19,” a slogan that had appeared also under their pictures at an earlier conference held by Hizb ut-Tahrir on 24 August (www.middle-east-online.com/opinion, 10 Sept.). The conference did not take place.

Terrorist Acts against Jewish Targets as Part of Jihad

Despite the war declared on international terrorism, Bin Ladin’s al-Qa‘ida network appears to be alive and kicking worldwide. Jews have always been a major focus of Islamic fundamentalism, although never the main target, yet the war in Iraq and the continued confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians provided further justification for action against Jews worldwide. Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders continued to be propagated in Islamist texts and websites because they are allegedly the main obstacle to establishing the Islamic state (MEMRI, Special Dispatch, Nos. 569, 601, 9 Sept., 31 Oct.). The calls for jihad did not go unheeded and two major attacks against Jewish targets were perpetrated in 2003.

On 16 May five bombings occurred simultaneously in four Jewish locations in the Moroccan city of Casablanca: a Jewish restaurant, a Jewish community center, the Saphir Hotel known for hosting Israelis, the old Jewish cemetery and a nearby Spanish restaurant. The bombings claimed the lives of 41 people, most of them in the Spanish restaurant. Among the dead were 13 of the perpetrators. The 14th member of the group was wounded. No Jews or Israelis were among them. Since it was a Friday night the community center was closed and no one was killed there. The explosion of the bobby-trapped car killed the two police guards of the Belgian consulate across the street; the doorman and the security guard of the hotel who managed to stop the three terrorists at the entrance were also killed. The bombings in Casablanca were carried out only a few days after a series of bombings in the Saudi capital Riyadh. The bombings shook the Jewish population of the city, which is estimated at 4,000–5,000, and were perceived by it, according to the head of the community Serge Berdugo, as an attempt by the Islamists to undermine tolerance, “the symbol of Moroccan society” (Yedi‘ot Aharonot, 18, 19 May; Ma‘ariv, 18, 19 May; al-Hayat, 18 May; NYT, 20 May; al-Ahram, 23 May).

The perpetrators belonged to the radical Islamic groups Sirat al-Mustaqim and al-Takfir wal-Hijrah, assisted by a French convert to Islam Pierre Richard Antoine Robert, who was considered the mastermind behind the operation (al-Hayat, 18, 19 May, 3 June; NYT, 18 Sept.).

Four months later, on 11 September, Albert Revivo, a 55-year old Jewish wood merchant was shot dead in Casablanca while closing his store. Two days later 75-year old Elie Afrat was stabbed to death as he left his house in Meknes (Ha’aretz, 12, 14, 17 Sept.; Reuters, 13 Sept.; Guardian, 15 Sept.; JP, 19 Sept.).

Another attack on a Jewish target attributed to al-Qa‘ida supporters took place on Saturday 15 November in Istanbul. Two car bombs exploded simultaneously outside two adjacent synagogues – Neve Shalom and Beth Israel. Twenty-three people were killed, among them six Jews, and about 300 injured. The majority of the casualties appeared to have occurred outside the synagogues. Like the bombings in Casablanca, the perpetrators of the Istanbul bombings were young Turks inspired by al-Qa‘ida. Two were former activists of two small Turkish Islamist groups – the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders (Akincilar) Front and Hizballah, which were active in the 1980s and whose leaders are in jail. Turkish PM Tayyip Ardogan, who vowed to hunt the attackers, said that the attacks in Istanbul like those of 11 September were not anti-Semitic but assaults on humanity and its values (AP, 15 Nov.; Ha’aretz, 16, 17, 18, 23, 26 Nov.; NYT, WP, 16 Nov.; Yedi‘ot Aharonot, 19, 20, 28 Nov.)

Another attack which should be mentioned here took place in Israel. On 29 April two British Muslims, members of an Islamist organization which sympathized with al-Qa‘ida, set a precedent when they managed to infiltrate Israel and launch a suicide operation against an Israeli pub on the Tel Aviv esplanade. Although this chapter does not deal with suicide attacks in Israel, because of the identify of the perpetrators this incident (see also UK) should be seen as part of the wave of terrorist acts against Jewish targets. Al-Qa‘ida does not differentiate between Jews and Israelis and views them as a single hostile entity (Ma‘ariv, 2 May; Yedi‘ot Aharonot, 9 May).

The bombings in Morocco came as a surprise to Moroccans as well as to Arabs in general, although there were apparently early warnings about the possibility of such attacks. There were growing signs of the strengthening of Islamist groups in Morocco which maintained contacts with Moroccans outside the country, especially in Spain; moreover Bin Ladin perceived Morocco as too moderate and subservient to western interests (al-Hayat, 21 May; al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 24 May.) The same could be said about Turkey, which turned a blind eye to the Islamists’ activities, and which was perceived, despite the Islamist orientation of Erdogan’s government, as collaborating with the West and with Israel.

The fact, however, that these suicide operations were carried out against targets in Muslim countries, not to mention those in Saudi Arabia, triggered a renewed debate on their moral and religious justification. Fearing their destabilizing effects, Arab commentators as well as religious scholars hastened to condemn them, raise questions on their advisability and consider them terrorist attacks (al-Hayat, 17, 18 May, 1 June; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 15 July (Mideast Mirror); al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 15 Nov.; al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), 28 Nov. (Mideast Mirror); al-Ahram Weekly, 4 Dec.). Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah issued a fatwa (religious edict) claiming that “from the standpoint of Islamic Law the targeting of innocent civilians – men, women and children, Muslim and non-Muslims alike – and of civilian structures by such savage acts in the absence of any justification, be it foreign aggression or war, is an offense… detrimental to the reputation of Islam and the Muslim people” (al-Hayat, 20 May, 12 July; al-Ahram Weekly, 22 May.) “Who benefits from striking at the places of worship of unarmed Jews who have been living in Istanbul for more than 500 years, and are linked to Turkey through historical, material, and living ties that are much stronger than any blood ties that may link them to some Israelis?” asked Lebanese journalist Amin Kamuriya in the Lebanese daily al-Nahar. Moreover, he added, “could there be a better gift to Israel at a time when it is being subjected to the harshest of international condemnations because of its ongoing aggression against the Palestinians?” (al-Nahar, 26 Nov. See also: al-Hayat, 2 June). “Despite our rejection of such aggressive acts,” added Egyptian columnist Usama Saraya, it should be remembered that more than fifty years of oppression of the Palestinian people sowed the seeds of the divisive idea of terrorism and intolerance among nations (al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 22 Nov.).

A clear distinction had been made between such unjustified terrorist acts and suicide attacks against Israeli targets, considered to be “martyrdom operations.” At a conference of Muslim clerics held in Stockholm in the first week of July, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qardawi, an Islamist spiritual authority, reiterated his view that suicide operations carried out by the Palestinians against “the Zionist occupation” are not included in the category of forbidden terrorist acts even if they are directed at innocent civilians. Israeli society, he maintained, is a “military, racist society” and the civilians are in fact soldiers. Muslims have a legitimate right to fight by all means to free their lands from the hands of the usurpers. The “human bombs” are unique to the believers and “the weapon of the weak against the strong tyrant,” he concluded. (al-Sharq al-Awsat, 19 July).

Despite Arab acknowledgement that the attacks were carried out by Islamists, there were still those who doubted this fact. For instance, Jamal Badawi wrote in the Egyptian opposition paper al-Wafd, that the fingers of international Zionism were probably behind the Istanbul attacks on the old peaceful Jewish community in order to defame the Arabs and Muslims and divert European public opinion from American and Israeli terror (al-Wafd, 18 Nov.).

Continued Popularization of anti-Semitic Motifs

Besides these manifestations of anti-Semitism associated with regional and international developments and events, anti-Semitic themes and images in the Arab world continued to proliferate at the popular level without a specific political trigger, through newspapers articles, caricatures, new books, TV programs and school textbooks. Israel was depicted as a fascist, racist state due to its alleged barbaric deeds against the Palestinians, and PM Ariel Sharon was personally targeted as the embodiment of this policy. Even the liberal moderate London-based daily al-Hayat used this terminology in its editorials. Jihad al-Khazin repeatedly referred to “Israeli state terror” and to “Nazi racist practices against civilians.” The Israeli government, he claimed, was composed of “war criminals perpetrating the same practices carried out by the Nazis against the Jews during the Holocaust.” It should be noted, however, that al-Khazin included Jews among victims of the vicious circle of bloodshed exacerbated by the fanatic ideology of an extremist Israeli minority which rejected peace (al-Hayat, 2, 7, 31 July).

The Gaza Strip was depicted as an Israeli extermination camp in a caricature in the Jordanian mainstream daily al-Dustur, and Sharon continued to be portrayed as a ‘butcher’ and a Nazi with a swastika, who relished Palestinian blood (al-Jumhuriya, al-Wafd, 19 Jan.; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 1 Feb.; al-Hayat, 24 June; al-Dustur, 19 Oct.; al-Akhbar, 16 Nov.).

Review columns in the media dealt with several books on the Jewish personality and on Zionism published in the Arab world. In the Egyptian mainstream weekly October, Fathi al-Abyari praised the book Human Concern and Zionist Robbery [al-hamm al-’insani wal-ibtizaz al-sihyuni], translated by Ashraf al-Sabbagh (author not specified), as part of a project of international literature translation initiated by the Egyptian government. The book reportedly describes the Jewish personality in Russian literature in the 19th century, and shows how Zionism, that “vicious universal movement,” defamed Russian literature. In conclusion, al-Abyari stated that “the Zionist viper” was again rising, stirring the American apparatus “against the Arabs, the Muslims and Islam” (October, 22 June). Among other books published in Egypt on the Jews was al-masrah al-yahudi (Jewish Theatre), by Shukri ‘Abd al-Wahhab, which claims that international Zionism “subordinated the theatre and the arts to its goals” (al-Hayat, 4 May). Another book, al-shakhsiya al-yahudiya al-isra’iliya wal-ruh al-‘udwaniya (The Jewish Israeli Personality and the Aggressive Spirit), by Rashad al-Shami, deals with the origins of contemporary Israelis and with the question whether they belong to the ancient ‘Jewish race’. Al-Wahhad concludes that present-day Israelis are not descendants of the ancient Jews but a mutation of “the ghetto Jewish personality” and “the Jewish Zionist personality” (al-Hayat, 2 Feb.). Egyptian expert on Israeli affairs ‘Abd al-Ghaffar al-Duwik published a book, anbiya’ israil al-judad. Ru’a al-yahud lil-`alam wali-anfusihim (The New Israeli Prophets: The Jewish Perception of the World and of Themselves). The term ‘the new prophets’ is meant to convey the extent of authority of Jewish rabbis in Israeli society and stress the growing influence of Jewish radical religious thought (al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 12 April). Another book which deals with Jewish fundamentalism, ma ba‘d isra’il – bidayat al-turah wa-nihayat al-sihyuniya (Post-Israel – The Beginning of the Torah and the End of Zionism), by Ahmad al-Salmani, was reviewed in March on the Qatari satellite TV station al-Jazira. The author maintains that Zionism has accomplished its mission with the establishment of the State of Israel, and is coming to an end since it is not a valid timeless ideology. The end of Zionism, he contended, means also the end of Israel, which is “a totality of problems, demographic crises, emigration abroad, and economic and social difficulties.” The book reportedly discusses major issues of Jewish and Zionist history up until the aftermath of the September 11 events, which marked the strengthening of Jewish fundamentalism. He concludes by warning the Arabs of this trend, which represents a more intransigent enemy (al-Jazira, 15 March – www.aljazeera.net).

The Lebanese daily al-Mustaqbal, known as the mouthpiece of Rafiq al-Hariri’s government, reviewed a book published in Syria – yahud yakrahuna anfusihim (Self-Hating Jews) – by Muhammad Hasan al-Nabulsi, described as a researcher. The book reportedly deals with “the wailing self-perception of the Jews and the conspiracy complex,” which led them to develop “hate toward the other” and a strong urge for revenge. The book discusses anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews in Europe and refers to the Holocaust as “exaggerated to the point of hysteria.” Hitler, it claims, “provided them with an opportunity to turn anti-Semitism from a complaint into an international term… and to inculcate the Holocaust as a persecution complex,” leading to the ingathering of the Jews in Palestine. Citing American Jewish writers such as Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky and Peter Novick, who dealt with the impact of the Holocaust and Zionism on American life, al-Nabulsi points to alleged Nazi-Zionist cooperation and to the “Jewish founding myths” spoken of by French intellectual and Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy (on Garaudy’s book The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics, see ASW 1998/9; al-Mustaqbal, 23 April). A book of short stories la tuhrij al-mawm al-jamil (Don’t Aggravate a Beautiful Death) by the Libyan author Ziyad ‘Ali, focuses mainly on the life of Jews in Libya. According to the book review, the stories contain common prejudices and stereotypes about the Jews, such as their love of money, their greed and their wickedness (al-Mustaqbal, 18 Dec.).

Interest in  the debate on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, triggered in 2002 by the Egyptian TV series A Horseman without a Horse (see ASW 2002/3), did not subside in 2003. Demand for the new edition of the book, published in 2002, at the International Egyptian Book Fair held in February was reportedly very high (Ha’aretz, 4 Jan. 2004). Wajih Abu Zikra discussed the early Arabic translation of The Protocols and of Henry Ford’s book The International Jew, and maintained that the Jews had created The Protocols and were applying them to the letter in the US. If Ford were to return to life, he wrote, he would have seen the Jewish government called AIPAC with its secret and public meetings (al-Akhbar, 28 Feb.). In another article, he likened “Israel’s efforts to get uranium” to the application of The Protocols because they reflected the inherent traits of “stealing [from] and betraying” even friends (al-Akhbar, 24 Jan.). Viewing the war against terrorism and in Iraq, Sana‘ Fathallah also thought that the ideas expressed in The Protocols on ‘Greater Israel’ were being implemented in the region (al-Akhbar, 10 March).

A new book by Egyptian expert on Judaic studies ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Masiri deals with “The Protocols, Judaism and Zionism” (al-brutukulat wal-yahudiya wal-sihyuniya; published by Dar al-Shuruq). Al-Masiri has written several articles on The Protocols, in which he denies their authenticity, arguing that the Christian perception of the Jews encouraged the adoption of such accusations against the Jews. Although the Jewish holy books were rife with hatred of ‘the other’ and with dreams and illusions, Zionism derived its veneration of violence from the racist imperialist civilization of the West. Its control of the world media and economy resulted from its participation in “a western colonial formation” and served American interests. The dissemination of The Protocols in the Arab world, he explained, derived from a need “to interpret the expansion of colonialism and the defeats inflicted on the Arabs by Jewish groups depicted as foreigners” (al-Jazira, 12 Nov. – www.aljazeera.net).

The Protocols were again an issue of contention in Egypt in November. Jihan Husayn, a journalist of the marginal weekly al-Usbu‘, published an article claiming that the first complete Arabic version translated by Muhammad Khalifa al-Tunisi was being displayed alongside the Torah in a showcase of old manuscripts in the newly erected Bibliotheca Alexandria. She interviewed the library museum’s director Yusuf Zaydan, and quoted him as saying that although The Protocols was not a monotheistic holy book, it had become sacred and “even more important than the Torah for Zionist Jews in the world,” who conducted their Zionist life in accordance with its precepts. It was only natural, he added, to put this book together with other rare books. In the beginning of December, following translation of the article by the non-profit Jewish-Israeli Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and protests by Jewish as well as international bodies such as UNESCO, which contributed the money for the new library, the book was removed from the showcase. The director of the library, Isma‘il Saraj al-Din, published a statement on 4 December in which he admitted that the book “was displayed briefly in a showcase with other samples of curiosities” but was never put alongside the Torah nor introduced as a holy book. However, he conceded, “its very inclusion showed bad judgment and insensitivity.” Zaydan also posted a message on his website denying Husayn’s report (al-Usbu‘, 17 Nov.; Ma’ariv, 27 Nov.; MEMRI, Dispatch No. 619, 3 Dec.; al-Jazira, 7 Dec. – www.aljazeera.net; al-Bayan, 9 Dec.; www.zeidan.com/English/Zion; al-Ahram Weekly, 19 Feb. 2004).

However, Saraj al-Din’s statement and the removal of the book from display did not put an end to the affair. “A tide of anger” swept the Egyptian public which was reminiscent of the uproar in the wake of criticism of the TV series A Horseman without a Horse: questions were raised in Parliament, letters sent to newspapers and articles published (see ASW 2002/3). The library’s action was presented as a submission to western and Jewish pressure and a violation of the right of free expression. It was even seen as “americanization of the Egyptian mind” (al-Bayan, 12 Dec.; al-Usbu`, 15 Dec.; al-Ahram, 25, 29 Dec.).

In other responses, Egyptian intellectual al-Sayyid Yasin, who considered the display of “the forged document” “an obvious mistake,” lashed out at critics who seemed to believe that it proved the Jewish conspiracy to control the world, and whose ideational positions harmed the image of Arab intellectuals (al-Ahram, 25 Dec.).

A declaration of support for the library was signed by over 500 intellectuals, who rejected the accusation of anti-Semitism as well as the attacks on the library’s decision to withdraw the book. “Accusing the library of anti-Semitism,” it said, was “a totally baseless allegation, which cannot be justified by the fact that a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was displayed briefly in an exhibit.” However, withdrawal of the book, which lacked credibility, “cannot be construed as an attack on freedom of expression, nor can it be seen as taking a position opposed to Islam or Arabism, or other false and misleading claims” (al-Ahram, 29 Dec.; al-Ahram Weekly, 19 Feb. 2004; See also MEMRI, Dispatch No. 671, 2 March 2004).

The Protocols and the blood libel inspired another TV production, al-Shatat (The Diaspora), screened during the month of Ramadan (October–November) on the Hizballah channel al-Manar. The 29-part Syrian-produced series purports to show the history of the Jews and the emergence of Zionism, and contends that the Jews have tried to dominate the world for centuries through a secret global government. The Jews were accused of all the catastrophes wreaked on humanity and on the Jews themselves, such as the two world wars, the Russian revolution, the toppling of Ottoman rule, the invention of chemical weapons, cooperation with the Nazis in the annihilation of European Jews, and the sinking of a boatload of Jewish refugees on their way to the US. They focused on the Dreyfus affair in order to demonstrate the treacherous character of the Jews, and on the alleged Jewish ritual of using the blood of a Christian child in the Passover matzos, as well as on the Rothschild legacy, Herzl and Zionist schemes (Ma‘ariv, 30 Oct.; MEMRI, Special Dispatch, Nos. 610, 623, 18 Nov., 8 Dec.; Yedi‘ot Aharonot, 12 Dec.; The Observer, 14 Dec.). The series was written by Fathallah ‘Umar, a lecturer at the University of Aleppo, and revised by Syrian historian Suhayl Zakar for historical accuracy. The producers informed viewers that the series was based on Israeli and Jewish resources and had no connection to The Protocols, although one of the episodes dealt with them. In this episode (No. 22), “the global Jewish government” convened to celebrate the death of one million Jews in World War II, which served its goals. “The higher the number of Jews killed in the war, the more we will be able to convince the world that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are nothing more than a lie invented by the Christian world to increase people’s hatred for the Jews,” explained the government head. After persuading world public opinion, he continued, “we will launch a secret and quiet offensive” to defeat the world without a war (MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 627, 12 Dec.).

Following criticism by Jewish organizations and protests by US embassies to the Lebanese and Syrian governments, a debate began in Arab papers. Lebanese Foreign Minister Jan ‘Ubayd rejected an American request to stop screening the series, on the grounds of freedom of expression, while the Syrian government dismissed any connection to it. In fact, it did not permit its screening on Syrian television. Fathallah and al-Manar production manager Nasir Akhdhar refuted allegations that the series was anti-Semitic and promoted violence. The series, they claimed, exposed the truth behind “international Zionism” until the establishment of the “Zionist entity.” The London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-‘Arabi branded the American protest as one of “the ugliest forms of censorship and arrogance.” The greatest source of anti-Semitism in the region, it went on to say, originated in Israeli practices under Sharon. The paper also blamed the US administration and the State Department for turning a blind eye to hostility to Arabs and Muslims in American films and TV series, which portrayed them as terrorist bloodsuckers (al-Mustaqbal, 24 Sept.; al-Hayat, 30, 31 Oct., 12 Nov.; al-Khalij, 21, 30, 31 Oct., 1, 6, 12 Nov.; al-Quds al-‘Arabi, 31 Oct.; Daily Star, 4 Nov.). Lebanese liberal intellectual Hazim Saghiya also referred to the series, under the title “anti-Semitic Discourse and al-Shatat.” The debate over anti-Semitism in Europe as well as the screening of the Syrian production was “purely of benefit to Israel and was completely damaging to the Palestinians,” who continued to be killed and whose national cause was being obliterated (al-Hayat, 11 Nov.). Ahmad al-Maghrabi challenged the series’ basic assumption of Jewish control of the world since antiquity. In its promo, it claimed to present 2000 years of Jewish history until the creation of the Zionist movement, he said, but it failed to mention the word Zionism in this introductory note. In fact, it did not differentiate between Jews and Zionists and spoke about Jews as Jews, using all the prevailing stereotypes about them. Did the Jews really control the world after being dispersed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians? Could they really have a secret central government? he asked (al-Hayat, 16 Nov.). An Iraqi journalist living in Germany, Mirza Hasan Danayi, also criticized the series for “mixing the image of the Jews as a nation, a people and a religion,” thus linking the precepts and beliefs of all monotheistic religions with the policy of the State of Israel. Its aspiration to present chapters of true history had turned into “a drama of fantasy,” which “sow[ed] resentment and hatred” (al-Hayat, 19 Nov.).

The Syrian discourse on Israel and Zionism, reflected in the pronouncements of President Asad and of other Syrian officials and in many newspapers articles, consistently referred to them as the new Nazism, while at the same time claiming that their ideological roots lay in the ancient Jewish holy books the Torah and the Talmud. In an interview to the pro-Syrian Lebanese daily al-Safir, Asad said that Israel cannot be considered “a legitimate state in the region,” because its foundations were nationalist, religious and sectarian, in contrast to states in the rest of the region, and perhaps in the rest of the world (al-Safir, 27 March [Mideast Mirror]). “The Palestinians are being persecuted by a new racism represented by the Zionist entity,” declared the distinguished chairman of the Syrian Writers Association ‘Ali ‘Uqla ‘Arsan in an interview to the Israeli Arabic weekly Kul al-‘Arab. “The Palestinians are not Nazis,” he said. “The Nazi is the one who carried out the Sabra and Shatilla massacre… and other massacres” (Kul al-`Arab, 2 Jan. 2004. See also MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 646, 19 Jan. 2004). Similar views were expressed by Palestinian writer/historian ‘Arif al-‘Arif in the Syria Times. “The whole world has come to know that Zionism is racist and fascist in theory and practice,” he maintained, and warned that “the philosophy and theory of Zionism” were pushing Israel and the Jewish world “along the same suicidal road that the Third Reich trod” (Syria Times, 20 Aug.). In another article claiming that anti-Zionism had nothing in common with anti-Semitism, he explained that the Arab attitude was always that “those who oppose Zionism do not oppose Judaism or the Jewish people as members of a religion. They oppose an ideology, a political philosophy, a racist movement” (Syria Times, 10 Sept.). The Syrian daily Tishrin published a series of articles, “Terrorism a Zionist Craft,” by Dr. Ghazi Husayn, which discussed the alleged origins of Zionist terrorism, Zionist conspiracies, Israel as the embodiment of terrorist thought and practice, and Israel’s “barbaric crimes” (Tishrin, 1, 30 Nov., 7, 9 Dec.; 7, 13 Jan. 2004. For other articles in the same vein, see Tishrin, 7 May; 14 June).

Despite a subsidence in the zealous wave of anti-Semitism in the Palestinian Authority (PA) which characterized the first period of the intifada, anti-Semitic manifestations and incitement against Israelis and Jews continued, especially in mosques, in educational TV programs and in schools. The Jerusalem-based non-profit Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which monitors the Palestinian media, reported several cases in which Palestinian TV broadcast programs indoctrinating children to resent and resist Israel. Cultivating anticipation of its destruction through armed conflict, they also represented the conflict as part of Islam’s irreconcilable religious war against the Jews (PMW Multi-Media Bulletin, 21 April, 14 July; Jerusalem Post [JP], 18 July, 4 Jan. 2004).

Preachers such as Shaykh Ibrahim Mudayris and Shaykh Ibrahim Madhi frequently referred to the Jews in their Friday sermons in Gaza’s mosques, broadcast live on PA TV. On 28 February, Shaykh Mudayris called for the expulsion of the Jews from Israel and vowed to “return to our country… as conquerors and liberators,” naming cities such as Jerusalem, Haifa and Ashqelon.” On 12 December Shaykh Ibrahin Madhi explained that “the curse of Allah is upon the Jews,” who spread like a cancer in Palestine and should be eradicated (Steven Stalinsky, “Palestinian Authority Sermons 2000–2003” – MEMRI, Special Report No. 24, 28 Dec.). According to a report published by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Hamas pamphlets and posters encouraging jihad and suicide operations were seized by IDF soldiers on 30 September in mosques in the West Bank. One of the posters depicted Jesus on the cross, with the caption: “Ask Bush whether Jesus was a terrorist when the Jews crucified him” (www.intelligence.org.il/sp/sib_11b_03/hp,htm).

There were also frequent references to the Holocaust. On 27 May, PA TV held an interview with Isma‘il al-Bakkawi on Norman Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry. Pointing out the extent of killing during World War II, he explained that the Holocaust affected only the Jews and apologized for using the word ‘holocaust’. “This is a word that they [presumably the Jews] try to attach only to Jews who were killed,” he said, “but I use this expression in the human sense. It can also be used to refer to the Palestinians and the suffering that the Israelis [have caused] them.” He also claimed that the Zionist leadership had made “a fortune” out of this tragic event (PMW Bulletin, 29 May). On 24 June the Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadida published an article accusing Zionist leaders of “having sacrificed many Jews” in order to get rid of those Jews who opposed them and to push the Jews to immigrate to Palestine (al-Hayat al-Jadida, 24 June – PMW Bulletin, 26 June.).

On 19 August, senior Hamas leader ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Rantisi posted on his website an essay which also appeared in the Hamas publication in Gaza al-Risala. Entitled “Which is Worse, Zionism or Nazism?” he denied the Holocaust and accused the Zionists of collaborating with the Nazis. Zionists “managed to portray themselves as the only victims of the Holocaust,” and succeeded in misleading the West into believing in the “false Holocaust,” he claimed. He quoted Holocaust deniers Roger Garaudy, David Irving, Fredrick Toben and Gerd Honsik to support his rejection of the existence of gas chambers. He also repeated the notion that the Zionists had helped the Nazis gain power and aided them in the murder of Jews in order to intimidate the latter into immigrating to Palestine. The crimes committed by the Nazis, he alleged, were “only a drop in the ocean compared to the terror that the Zionists are committing against the Palestinian people” (www.rantisi.net; al-Risala, 21 Aug.; MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 558, 27 Aug.). On the other hand, it should be noted that former Palestinian PM Mahmud ‘Abbas (Abu Mazin), who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation (in the Soviet Union in the early 1980s) on the links between Nazism and Zionism and contested the number of Jewish victims, retracted his claims in an interview with Ha’aretz. “The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation,” he said, adding that it “was a terrible thing which nobody can claim I denied” (Ha’aretz, 28 May; Guardian, 29 May).

In the aftermath of the September 11 events, when it was established that 15 of the 19 hijackers of the four planes were Saudis, not only did US-Saudi relations suffer a blow but also the moderate image of the Saudi Wahhabi brand of Islam. The Saudi education system, the messages contained in the preaching of the government-controlled mosques as well as the Saudi attitude to civil rights, in general, and to those of foreigners and women, in particular, drew the attention of the West and were subjected to closer scrutiny. This examination revealed a worldview and an education system based on rejection of ‘the other’, Christian and Jew alike, and the repudiation of most western values, while inculcating the notions of Islamic supremacy and jihad for the name of Allah. Intertwined in this context were anti-Semitic motifs such as Jewish manipulation of international financial, economic and media organizations, the equation of Zionism with Nazism, Zionist exploitation of the Holocaust and the Jews as prophet killers (Arnon Groiss (ed.), The West, Christians and Jews in Saudi Arabian Schoolbooks, Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), Jan.; NYP, 5 Feb.; National Review Online, 7 Feb.; Forward, 7 March; WP, 7, 12 June; Ha’aretz, 3 Dec.).

A Saudi textbook for 8th grade students explains why Jews and Christians were cursed by Allah and turned into apes and pigs (Steven Stalinsky, “Preliminary Overview – Saudi Arabia’s Education System,” MEMRI Special Report – Saudi Arabia, No. 12, 20 Dec. 2002). A two-part commentary by Dr. Muhammad Bin Sa‘d al-Shuway‘ir, published on 3 and 10 January in the Saudi paper al-Jazira and entitled “Why Pork Is Forbidden,” refers also to this aspect. The transformation of the Jews into apes and pigs, he said, was a punishment “because monkeys and pigs were considered among the lowliest of animals, in nature and manners,” whereas Jews, any time and anywhere, were “an example of human lowness, as demonstrated in the Qur’an.” He attributed to the Jews ‘bad’ and ‘inborn’ traits: “a love for sowing sedition and hatred, a tendency to lie to the media and in politics, a failure to honor appointments, breach of agreements, and conspiring against Muslims, and particularly against Saudi Arabia, which is to the Muslims what the head is to the body” (Hoover’s online, 18 Jan. – hoovnews.hoovers.com)

The threat to Saudi Arabia and to Muslims posed by Zionism was reflected also in the writing of Saudi princess Fahda bint Sa‘ud ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa‘ud, a historian of her father’s reign. She analyzed his plan for dealing with the “cancerous Zionist threat,” and warned of neo-conservative conspiracies to control the world. In an article entitled, “Wake up Saudis! Who Directs the Explosions behind the Scenes? Who’s behind Terrorism?” published in the daily al-‘Ukkaz on 16 November, she indirectly accused American neo-conservative research institutes, influenced by Israeli scholars and politicians, of instigating violence and civil war in Saudi Arabia as the symbol of an Islamic society and a state based on Islamic law (al-‘Ukkaz, 16 Nov.; MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 653, 2 Feb. 2004).

Another common theme is the well-known hadith (oral tradition) known as “The Promise of the Stone and the Tree.” It tells of Judgment Day when Muslims will fight the Jews, and the Jew will hide behind a rock or a tree, but the rock or tree will call upon the Muslim to come and kill him. The hadith, which appears in another Saudi textbook for 9th grade students, is accompanied by comments that emphasize the enmity between Muslims and both Jews and Christians, and the eternal struggle with the Jews who are doomed to defeat (Steven Stalinsky, “Preliminary Overview – Saudi Arabia’s Education System,” MEMRI Special Report – Saudi Arabia, No. 12, 20 Dec. 2002).

In early June three Saudi dailies published an article by the secretary-general of the Manpower Council, ‘Abd al-Wahid al-Humayd, entitled “Good Cause, Bad Lawyers,” in which he claimed that Jews were “masters at manipulating the media, money, and world organizations.” The Jews, he added, had “succeeded in winning world sympathy by playing on the Holocaust and on Nazi atrocities. The result has been a world that gradually shifted from disliking Jews to sympathizing with them” (MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 521, 11 June).

US and domestic pressure led Crown Prince ‘Abdallah to launch a “National Dialogue” project which included editing Saudi textbooks and deleting passages that inculcated hatred toward Jews and the West. But this met with opposition from al-Qa‘ida sympathizers, who considered the proposals for a new curriculum “an anti-Islamic plot orchestrated by Crusaders, Jews and Shi‘ites” (WP, 18 Feb. 2004).

Arab Responses to Accusations of anti-Semitism

The proliferation of anti-Semitic manifestations in the Arab media and growing awareness of their obstructive effect on the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as concern for the security of Jewish communities worldwide led to increased scrutiny by Jewish and Israeli organizations. Besides regular monitoring of these manifestations, followed by denunciations and protests, several reports were published, drawing reaction from the Arab media. In October 2003 the ADL published the report Anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim World; the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published in January and March a report on The ‘Hate Industry’ in Egypt under Official Patronage; and MEMRI issued a report in September on the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up (ZCCF), which operates under the auspices of UAE President Shaykh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nuhayan and is sponsored by the Arab League. These re-ignited discussion on anti-Semitism in the Arab world (for past instances see, for example, the debate over the series, A Horseman without a Horse in ASW 2002/3; for a discussion of anti-Semitism on the European scene, see General Analysis 2003/4).

In the mainstream Egyptian daily Akhbar al-Yawm, Samir Sirhan refuted the accusation of anti-Semitism in the report on the hate industry in Egypt, which focused on three books published in Egypt in 2002 (see ASW 2002/3), describing it as “intellectual terrorism.” Any criticism of Israel’s “barbaric attitude toward the Palestinians” or the promotion of heroic operations by Palestinian fedayeen is considered by Israel as anti-Semitism, he said, adding that this was “their way to suppress any dissenting voice and to ‘rob’ world public opinion and especially that in the West.” Following this article, Muhammad Salmawi, editor of the French weekly al-Ahram Hebdo and author of the book on Wafa’ Idris, the female suicide bomber mentioned in the report, published his response in the opposition paper al-Wafd. Salmawi’s praise of Idris’ courage was interpreted as encouraging suicide attacks against innocent Israelis and he was also accused of denying the Holocaust due to his support of Roger Garaudy and David Irving (see ASW 1998/9). Entitled “Wafa’ Idris Troubles Israel after Her Death!” he rejected one by one the accusations against him, describing them as a “gross distortion of the truth.” Depicting Israelis as ‘barbaric’ and ‘inhuman’ as he had, he concluded, was “a most civilized way” to define what the Israelis do to the Palestinians (Akhbar al-Yawm, 15 Feb.; al-Wafd, 19 Feb.).

Two of the books mentioned in the report were part of the popular series, “Reading for All,” published by the Egyptian Ministry of Education under the auspices of the president’s wife Susanne Mubarak. The ADL protest in the US prompted Egyptian Minister of Culture Faruq Husni to publicly reject the accusation that the series promoted anti-Semitism. He was quoted by al-‘Arabi as saying that targeting Egypt’s first lady was not accidental and was aimed at preventing any criticism of Israeli policies and of racist Zionist thought (al-Sharq al-Awsat, 2 July; al-‘Arabi, 6 July; al-Ahram al-‘Arabi, 12 July).

A controversy erupted following the announcement on 27 August by Shaykh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nuhayan on the closure of the Zayed International Center, on the grounds that it had engaged “in a discourse that starkly contradicted the principles of interfaith tolerance.” The center, which was founded in 1999 as an intellectual free forum for establishing a dialogue between Arab culture and the West, hosted seminars and speakers that promoted anti-American and anti-Semitic views. On 11 March, for instance, the center hosted the American journalist Michael Collins Piper who contended that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were “real fact.” In a lecture he gave at the center on 9 April, Prof. of Islamic Studies at King Faysal University Umayma al-Jalahma blamed the Jews for being behind the US war in Iraq, and claimed that the beginning of the war in March was set to coincide with the Jewish festival of Purim, which symbolizes the victory over Haman in Babylon. Other Arab lecturers such as the Egyptian Muhammad Khalifa Hasan, director of the Center of Oriental Studies at Cairo University, Rami Tahbub, consultant to the PLO on Jerusalem affairs, and Wajdi ‘Abd al-Fattah Sawahil, expert on genetic engineering, delivered lectures on Israeli politics that were rife with anti-Semitic insinuations. Hasan spoke on 12 December 2002 of the religious myths which fed the Israeli extreme right and the myth of the Holocaust which was been exploited to attain Jewish interests in Europe and especially in Germany. Discussing the issue of Jerusalem on 20 May, Tahbub accused Israel of contaminating Palestinian water reserves with a cancer-causing toxin . Similarly, Sawahil claimed on 21 May that Palestinians detained in Israel were being used for human experiments. All these lectures were posted on the center’s website (www. zccf.org. ae), which was removed after its closure (MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 494, 11 April; MEMRI, Special Report, Nos. 16, 18, 16 May, 11 July; Boston Globe, 11 May; For previous references to the center, see ASW 2002/3).

MEMRI’s reports on the center’s activities and lectures and the State Department’s protest, as well as the decision to close it, were denounced by Arab officials and writers, who rejected the charges, branding them a “systematic smear campaign by Zionist circles” (Khaleej Times Online, 17 July; Arabic News.com, 18 Aug.; Gulf News Online, 19, 20, 28 Aug.; al-Quds al-`Arabi, 19 Aug.; al-Sharq al-Awsat, 23 Aug.; MEMRI, Special Report, Nos. 18, 21, 11 July, 11 Sept.). Egyptian pro-Islamist writer Fahmi Huwaydi, who referred to the decision to close the center as “a cultural assassination,” claimed MEMRI was an intelligence tool aimed at distorting the image of Arabs and Muslims, and called for retracting the decision (al-Sharq al-Awsat, 1 Sept.). However, some writers such as al-Sharq al-Awsat editor ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid criticized the center for forgetting its initial purpose; instead of concentrating on the gravity of the Palestinian affair it dealt with Holocaust denial and the blood libel or invited a “third grade journalist” like Thierry Meyssan (al-Sharq al-Awsat, 19, 20 Aug., 1 Sept.).

The declaration of former Malaysian PM Mahathir Muhammad at the 10th opening session of the Islamic Conference Organization on 16 October also laid Arabs and Muslims open to charges of anti-Semitism. Analyzing the poor condition of the Muslim world, he contrasted it to the excessive power of the Jews despite their insignificant numbers and the blow dealt to them during the Holocaust. The statement aroused global condemnation, which was perceived as an unfounded attack orchestrated by Jews (see also General Analysis 2003/4).

To counterbalance Israeli and Jewish monitoring of anti-Semitism, a group of concerned Arab intellectuals and journalists set up a new Arab organization at the end of December 2003 – Arabs Against Discrimination (AAD). The chief editor of Egypt’s al-Ahram, Ibrahim Nafi‘, who was personally charged with anti-Semitism following publication of an article by ‘Adil Hammuda on the blood libel in October 2000 (see ASW 2000/1; 2002/3), was the driving force behind it. The organization, legally registered in France, aims to expose and combat all forms of discrimination and racism manifested against Arabs. The September 11 events and their aftermath had prompted the establishment of such an organization, wrote Nafi‘. He explained that so far Arabs had ignored the arena of world public opinion and left it open to manipulation and falsification of facts by Zionist organizations, such as MEMRI and the ADL. The relentless campaign against the Arabs through exploitation of the weapon of anti-Semitism, he concluded, should be fought and refuted by introducing the real facts on Israeli acts and policies within Israel and in the occupied territories. The organization launched a site, which purportedly surveys Israeli cases of racism (al-Ahram Weekly, 20 Nov.; 1 Jan. 2004; al-Ahram, 12 Jan., 5 Feb. 2004; http:// www .aad-online.org/).

Source - http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2003-4/arab.htm


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Friends and informative sites:

Zionism - Definition and Brief History - A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs,  Jewish anti-Zionists.

Labor Zionism - Early History and Critique - Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.

Dvar Dea - Israel and Zionism advocacy

La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale- Le Grand Mufti Husseini

The Grand Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini

Israel-Palestina - (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine,Zionism... Israël-Palestina Informatie -gids Israël, Zionisme Palestijnen en Midden-Oosten conflict... Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a European perspective - Dutch and English.

Zionisme - israelinformatie- Zionisme Israel/Jodendom Israelisch-Palestijns Conflict Anti-Semitisme Shoa - a Dutch Web site with many useful Jewish, Zionism and Israel links (in English too).