Finally, The New York Times reports on Arab Anti-Semitism

October 28, 2002


1. "Arab satellite station to air controversial series despite fierce criticism from Israel over Anti-Semitism" (Al Bawaba, Oct. 28, 2002). This is an article from the Television and Entertainment section of today's issue of Al Bawaba, one of the Arab world's more moderate publications.

2. "Anti-Semitic 'Elders of Zion' gets new life on Egypt TV" (New York Times, Oct. 26, 2002).

3. "Israel protests airing of Anti-Semitic Egyptian television series" (CNS, Oct. 17, 2002). This story appeared nine days before the one in the New York Times and adds details the Times omits, such as a scene where Ariel Sharon was said to be preparing to bottle a new cold drink made from the blood of Arab children.

4. "Saudis airing anti-Semitic TV series for Ramadan based on Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (The National Post, Canada, Dec. 7, 2001).


[Note by Tom Gross]

For over a century, the New York Times, eager to avoid being thought of as a "Jewish" paper, has regularly downplayed or suppressed stories relating to anti-Semitism. The most prominent examples of this relate to its well-documented refusal to report on the mass killings in the Nazi concentration camps until over a year after other papers in Britain and the U.S. had done so.

On Saturday, the New York Times finally reported on modern day Arab anti-Semitism. Its story "Anti-Semitic 'Elders of Zion' gets new life on Egypt TV" ran on the front page almost a year after some other papers reported on the same series. For example, on December 7, 2001, The National Post (of Canada) ran an article on this series by Matthew Kalman titled "Saudis airing anti-Semitic TV series for Ramadan based on Protocols of the Elders of Zion." (I sent that article out on this list on December 11, 2001).

One might even wonder what's worse, the Elders of Zion show or the The New York Times's tardiness in reporting it.

I attach four articles.

-- Tom Gross



Arab satellite station to air controversial series despite fierce critcism from Israel over Anti-Semitism
Al Bawaba (Television and Entertainment section)
October 28, 2002

The Emirates satellite channel announced yesterday that it has gotten the exclusive rights to air the controversial Egyptian TV series, "Fares Bila Jawad" (Knight Without a Horse), in the upcoming fasting month of Ramadan, despite fierce Israeli opposition to the story tackled in the series, according to the UAE daily, Al Bayan.

Members of the Media and Culture Committee at the Egyptian Parliament declined on Thursday an Israeli demand to cancel the airing of actor Mohammed Subhi's series, saying that no party has the right to ask for such action.

The Egyptian MPs criticized what it referered to as Israel's 'silly objection' and called upon the Emirates Television to air the series as planned. "We want to show what the Israeli aggression toward our brothers in Palestine is all about," said the MP.

Last week, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Michael Melchior, harshly criticized the Egyptian government for giving the green light to air the series, which is based on the book "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", which according to Israelis, was written by a Russian intelligence officer working for the Russian Tzar about 100 years ago. Melchior said that all Israelis view this book as one of the most anti-Semitic in the world, as Israelis beleive that it is a forged document allegedly claiming that the Jews plan to control the whole world.

The deputy expressed his anger toward the series, which details the Israeli conspiracy to take over Palestine, saying that, "unfortunately, the Arab media does not only address one single incident within the book, but rather a great deal of anti-Semitism."

The series, written by Mohammed Subhi and Mohammed Baghdadi, and directed by Ahmed Badriddin, also stars, Simon, Hanaa al Shorbagi, Gamil Rateb, Ashraf Abdel Ghafour, Khalil Murcy and Randa from Egypt, as well as others from Syria and Lebanon.



Anti-Semitic 'Elders of Zion' gets new life on Egypt TV
By Daniel J. Wakin
New York Times
October 26, 2002

The images flash quickly across the television screen. They show a bloody face, Victorian men and women in a drawing room, soldiers wielding rifle butts. And a man in black hat with side curls and long beard.

An Egyptian satellite television channel has begun teasers for its blockbuster Ramadan series that its producers acknowledge incorporates ideas from the infamous czarist forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." That document, a pillar of anti-Semitic hatred for about a century, appears to be gaining a new foothold in parts of the Arab world, some scholars and observers say.

The series, "Horse Without a Horseman," traces the history of the Middle East from 1855 to 1917 through the eyes of an Egyptian who fought British occupiers and the Zionist movement.

It is divided into 41 episodes and will be shown nightly through the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins in about two weeks and guarantees maximum viewership because many Muslims congregate at home after breaking the daily fast.

With Egyptian state television and other Arab channels also broadcasting the series, the potential audience numbers in the tens of millions.

A historical epic with a pulpy look, judging from the commercials, the series is the first production of one-year-old Dream TV.

The channel is one of the country's first two private stations, and has a somewhat freewheeling format compared with state television. It is controlled by Ahmed Bahgat, a prominent Egyptian businessman.

The "Protocols," which purports to depict Jewish leaders plotting world dominion, has long been recognized as a fabrication by the czarist secret police. It was used in early 20th-century Russia and in Nazi Germany as a pretext for persecution of Jews. Still, the show's backers say they are keeping an open mind about its authenticity. They say that in any event, reality seems to bear them out, in that Israel controls part of the Middle East.

"In a way, don't they dominate?" said Hala Sarhan, Dream TV's vice president and feisty personality on the air. "Of course, what we read from the 'Protocols,' it says it's a kind of conspiracy. They want to control; they want to dominate. I represent everybody in the street. We will see whether this happened throughout history or not."

Ms. Sarhan is quick to point out that the material about the "Protocols" is only one aspect of a sweeping television panorama. But others who have seen the entire program say that a Zionist conspiracy to control Arab lands is one of the themes running through the series.

At one point, men in the Arab anti-British resistance movement find the "Protocols" and have it translated, said a co-writer, Muhammad Baghdadi. "They discovered that many things in this document were happening in reality," Mr. Baghdadi said, "whether they were written by the Jews or not."

The underlying focus of the drama "is how the Zionist entity was planted in Palestine and in the Arab world," he said. Mr. Baghdadi said the series respected Judaism as a religion. "We only criticize the Zionist movement," he said.

Nevertheless, the program has troubled the United States as well as Israel. American Embassy officials say they raised their concerns with the Egyptian government but received a noncommittal response.

The series is closely associated with Muhammad Sobhi, a popular Egyptian screen and stage actor who is not shy about courting controversy and whose previous works have sometimes poked fun at Arabs. He co-wrote the script and plays the main character.

Mr. Sobhi declined to be interviewed, but earlier this year he told Al Jazeera television that whether or not the "Protocols" was authentic, "Zionism exists and it has controlled the world since the dawn of history."

He said that many of the book's predictions had been borne out and that it would be "stupid" not to consider the possibility that the book was true, even if the chance was "one in a million."

Commentators, like David I. Kertzer, a professor of anthropology at Brown University, have noted an increase in anti-Semitic imagery more typical of Western societies cropping up in the Arab world since the Sept. 11 attacks, along with the canard that Jews were warned of the attacks.

Michael A. Sells, a professor of comparative religion at Haverford College, said, "With each new wave of war and anger, the European-imported brand digs itself deeper into society."

[The rest of The New York Times article can be found here: ]



Israel protests airing of Anti-Semitic Egyptian television series
By Julie Stahl
October 17, 2002

A special Egyptian television series represents only the "tip of the anti-Semitic media iceberg" and violates the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Israeli officials are saying.

The series "Fares Bila Jawad" ("Knight Without a Horse") is based on a fabricated book ("The Protocols of the Elders of Zion") about an alleged Jewish plot to take over the world.

It is due to air on the Dream Channel, a private satellite television station owned by an Egyptian businessman, during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan in November.

Egyptian authorities claim they cannot prevent the 30-part "comedy" series from being broadcast because it is a matter of freedom of expression.

But Israeli officials charge that even the privately-owned and produced media is controlled by the government authorities.

The Ministry of Information, headed by Minister Safwat a-Sharif, is responsible for deciding if the program will be aired, an Israeli diplomat said. A-Sharif is close to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Before any production can begin the script must be approved by a censor from the Ministry of Information and after the program is produced it must be approved by another censor from the Ministry of Culture, said the diplomat who asked not to be named.

The program was produced in the equivalent of Egypt's Hollywood, a city called October 6 named for the day the Yom Kippur War with Israel began in 1973, which the Egyptians consider to be a victory for them. Films and programs produced in the city are controlled by the government, the diplomat added.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior earlier expressed his regrets over the Egyptian decision to allow the program to be screened.

"Unfortunately, we are not speaking about a single event but rather the tip of a huge iceberg of anti-Semitism in the media," Melchior said in a statement.

"This is not the way to educate the next generation," he said.

Egyptian newspapers, which are controlled by the government, regularly print anti-Semitic and anti-Israel cartoons and editorials.

Melchior said he hoped that the Egyptian authorities would not allow the series to be screened since in his opinion it would severely harm cooperation in the Middle East.

The Israeli diplomat also noted that the production is in contravention of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace accord, which calls on both sides to prevent incitement against each other. Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a full peace treaty with Israel.

Anti-Defamation League spokeswoman in Jerusalem Laura Kam-Issacharoff said that nothing is produced in Egypt without the approval of government censors.

"For anybody to imply that this is freedom [of expression] is totally disingenuous," Kam-Issacharoff said.

"The government may say it is freedom of artistic expression, but the government approved the script [and production] every step of the way," she added.

According to a translation of an article about the upcoming program in an Egyptian weekly ("Mussawar"), the series examines the Zionist ideas starting in the 1900s and the relationship Arabs had to what it called the "new" idea of Zionism and its connection to British, French and Turkish imperialism in the region.

"Zion" is a biblical term relating to the Land of Israel, which was later applied to the millenniums-old desire of the Jewish people to return to the holy land.

The program also examines the "centrality of Jerusalem in the eyes of the Arabs," the weekly said.

Main actor and co-writer of the series Mohammed Subhi Saher is widely known for his programs with anti-Israel themes, the paper said.

Subhi was quoted as saying that he had read "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" from an early age and was amazed at the broad conspiracy of evil revealed in the protocols. The book is readily available in Egyptian bookstores.

"Mussawar" refers to an earlier program in which Subhi participated. In it, Egyptian citizens lose their way while riding on a bus to Sharm e-Sheikh the site of many Israeli-Arab peace negotiations. A traitor on the bus who favored normalization of relations with Israel was responsible for the travelers losing their way.

The travelers had to decide if they take refuge from the extreme heat and cold of the desert in the bus on the border of Israel, thereby subjecting themselves to humiliation and shame; or if they would die rather than have a relationship with Israel. They chose the latter course, to preserve Egyptian honor.

Qatari newspapers were quoted as describing the current series as patriotic and not anti-Semitic or hostile. But, they said, it revealed the Jewish conspiracy to steal Palestine.

Israel lodged a complaint with the United Nations last year over a program aired on Abu Dhabi television during Ramadan. Dubbed a political satire, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was portrayed in that series offering a toast of the blood of Arab children together with a grotesque-looking Orthodox Jew.

In another scene, Sharon was said to be preparing to bottle a new cold drink made from the blood of Arab children.

According the Israeli diplomat, Abu Dhabi has expressed interest in broadcasting this year's program. The producers are also trying to persuade the Egyptian government to air the series on state television.



Saudis airing anti-Semitic TV series for Ramadan based on Protocols of the Elders of Zion
By Matthew Kalman
The National Post (Canada)
December 7, 2001

A major Arabic TV channel has produced a 30-part dramatization of the notorious anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to be broadcast throughout the Arab world as a special program for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Horseman Without a Horse is a multi-million-dollar production starring leading Egyptian actor Muhammad Subhi in 14 different roles with a large international cast from Egypt, Syria and France. The program was made by Arab Radio and Television (ART) a popular satellite channel based in Jedda, Saudi Arabia.

Roz Al-Youssuf, an Egyptian weekly, said in an admiring preview that the series successfully debunks Jewish claims that the Protocols the supposed minutes of the Jewish clique that controls the world were a forgery invented by anti-Semitic propagandists in Tsarist Russia.

"For the first time, the series' writer courageously tackles the 24 Protocols of the Elders of Zion, revealing them and clarifying that they are the central line that still, to this very day, dominates Israel's policy, political aspirations and racism," the paper reported.

The Protocols, which first surfaced in Russia at the end of the 19th century, have fed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that suggest Jews seek to exercise world domination through control of the media, banking system and political movements.

They were popular in Nazi Germany and are required reading among neo-Nazi groups to this day. The Protocols have sold thousands of copies in several Arabic editions and are particularly popular in Egypt and Syria.

News of the ART production comes as Dubai TV continues its nightly broadcast of Terrorman a Ramadan satire depicting Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, drinking the blood of Arab children.

Since Sept. 11, one often-repeated fantasy that has been pushed is that the Israeli Mossad was behind the World Trade Center attack a gruesome twist on the Jewish conspiracy theory that finds its most potent statement in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.