Muslim teacher banned over anti-Semitic propoganda

Social Democrat (SPÖ) Education Minister Claudia Schmied has banned a Muslim man from teaching his religion at a Vienna secondary school after he distributed anti-Semitic leaflets to pupils.

Schmied ordered the city school council today (Thurs) to take such action against the man, who had been teaching at the Cooperative Secondary School (KMS) on Brüßlgasse in Wien-Ottakring district. She said "delay would be dangerous."

The reason for the ban is the man’s behaviour. He reportedly distributed anti-Semitic leaflets to his students a few days ago. The leaflets contained a list of allegedly "Jewish" firms from which, the man told the students, they should not buy anything.

Teachers of religion are usually appointed and removed by their respective religious associations, but Schmied said the law on religion provided for the minister of education’s intervention in cases in which such teachers violated their legal obligations.

Allowing the man to continue to teach, the minister said, would have caused "serious damage to the interests of the school and the students."

Schmied’s intervention comes in the wake of a study concluding Islamic instruction in Austria has to change to comply with modern standards.

Mouhanad Khorchide is a professor of the sociology of religion at the Islamic Religion and Pedagogical Institute at Vienna University and the author of the new study, "Islamic religious instruction between integration and a parallel society."

Khorchide’s study concludes Muslim teachers in Austria have largely anti-democratic beliefs and one in five is "fanatical".

Khorchide, himself a Muslim, said 22.6 per cent of the 210 Muslim teachers he had surveyed had "fanatical attitudes" and 21.9 per cent rejected democracy as incompatible with Islam.

The older the teacher, Khorchide said, the more likely he was to reject the principle of the rule of law.

According to Vienna weekly "Falter", the study claimed 8.5 per cent of the Muslim teachers said it was understandable for violence to be used to spread Islam, 28.4 per cent said there was a contradiction in being both a Muslim and a European, and 44 per cent said they had to make their students understand they were better than non-Muslims.

In addition, 29 per cent said it was impossible for Muslims to integrate in Austria without losing their Muslim identity, and 55 per cent called Austrians xenophobic.

On the other hand, 85.7 per cent said they did not believe Muslims had to keep to themselves to avoid losing their Muslim identity.

The education Ministry and the Austrian Islamic Denomination recently agreed on a package of changes providing for new contracts for Islamic instructors and new lesson plans for the teaching of Islam in Austrian public schools.

Austrian Times


What Is Arab Anti-Semitism?
By Menahem Milson


The resurgence of anti-Semitism has two distinguishable new characteristics: a) the anti-Jewish positions are presented as a just response to Israel's conduct in its conflict with the Palestinians; and b) the Arab media are the source of most of this anti-Jewish propaganda. This calls for special attention to the issue of Arab anti-Semitism, which is quite distinct from that of Muslim attitudes to Jews and Judaism prior to the modern era. These two subjects, though interrelated in various ways, have totally different historical contexts and should therefore be treated separately. Arab anti-Jewish propaganda comprises three major components:


1) Anti-Jewish opinions derived from traditional Islamic sources;

2) Anti-Semitic stereotypes, images, and accusations of European and Christian origin;

3) Holocaust denial and equating Zionism with Nazism (this, of course, is of Western provenance, but its pivotal role warrants special attention).


Within the categories of traditional Islamic elements, special attention is paid to the depictions of Jews as apes and pigs, which dehumanize Jews as despised beasts and provides justification for their destruction.


Arab anti-Semitism has also adopted many of Europe's classic anti-Semitic myths, even those that Western anti-Semites have discarded as too primitive. The most obvious examples are: the notorious blood libel,' The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' and the charge – rather strange for Muslims – that the Jews killed Jesus. Moreover, the most common trend today in Arab anti-Zionist writing is the equation of Zionism with Nazism. Articles and public discussions in the Arab world frequently point out an ostensible similarity between the ideologies of the two movements, particularly with regard to racism – and Israeli forces are regularly compared to the Nazis.


Arab anti-Semitism must be closely monitored and its many manifestations translated and exposed, in the hope that exposure will lead to international protests and diplomatic pressure on the states guilty of propagating it.


What Is Arab anti-Semitism?

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in recent years in France and elsewhere in Europe has led to the realization that anti-Semitism – previously presumed to have been on the wane since World War II – once more poses a major threat to Jews. This anti-Semitic resurgence has, however, two distinguishable new characteristics: (a) the anti-Jewish positions are presented as a just response to Israel's conduct in its conflict with the Palestinians; and (b) Arab media are the source of most of this anti-Jewish propaganda. This calls for special attention to the issue of Arab anti-Semitism, which is quite distinct from that of Muslim attitudes to Jews and Judaism prior to the modern era. These two subjects, though interrelated in various ways, have totally different historical contexts and should therefore be treated separately.


It is indeed unfortunate that the status of the Jews as a tolerated minority in the Muslim world before the advent of Zionism has come to figure prominently in the competition between Jews and Arabs to enlist public opinion. The lay reader is often at a loss between the arguments on both sides. On the one hand, he hears that Jews (and Christians) had the status of a protected minority under Islam, and that Jews in Muslim Spain enjoyed a golden age of peace and prosperity; on the other, he is told that Jews and Christians had no legal equality and were never anything other than second-class citizens. These conflicting versions are put into a balanced perspective by Bernard Lewis:


Even at its best, medieval Islam was rather different from the picture provided by Disraeli and other romantic writers. The golden age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam. The myth was invented by Jews in 19th-century Europe as a reproach to Christians – and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews.


Like most powerful myths, this story contains an element of historic truth. If tolerance means the absence of persecution, then classic Islamic society was indeed tolerant to both its Jewish and its Christian subjects – more tolerant perhaps in Spain than in the East, and in either incomparably more tolerant than was medieval Christendom. But if tolerance means the absence of discrimination, then Islam never was or claimed to be tolerant, but on the contrary insisted on the privileged superiority of the true believer in this world as well as the next. [1]


This paper is confined to the subject of Arab anti-Semitism as a contemporary media phenomenon; it deliberately avoids discussion of Muslim attitudes to Jews and Judaism prior to the modern era. However, this does not suggest that the effects of a centuries-old tradition can be underestimated. As can be expected, medieval Islamic stereotypes of the Jew clearly inform the Arab response to Zionism and Israel.


Contemporary anti-Semitism in the Arab Media

It is sometimes argued that in countries with state-controlled media, the public tends to develop a healthy resistance to the party line and to cultivate its sympathies and antipathies independently of the media. Can one suppose that the public in Arab countries, accustomed as they are to distrusting the official media, dismiss the anti-Semitic materials which these media serve up as 'official (that is, false) propaganda?' However, there is no basis for such an optimistic assumption. There is a widespread prevalence of centuries-old stereotypes, which may very well create a predisposition to accept negative images of Jews and Israelis when presented in contemporary media.


Arab anti-Semitism as a modern political, ideological and media phenomenon correlates to the emergence of Zionism and the birth of Israel as a sovereign nation. This correlation becomes obvious when you look at the date of appearance of anti-Semitic publications in Arabic: the first Arabic novel with distinctly anti-Semitic themes, in 1921; in 1927, the first Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There is clearly an increase in the number of anti-Semitic publications in Arabic from 1947 on. It would, however, be erroneous to construe Arab anti-Semitism as a function of the Arab-Israeli conflict.


The Reluctance to Address Arab anti-Semitism

Considering the sheer quantity of anti-Jewish material in Arab publications of all sorts over the last century, it is impossible not to notice that Israeli and Jewish academics have all but ignored it.


There are some exceptions worthy of mention, in Israel and elsewhere: Yehoshafat Harkabi's The Arabs' Position in the Israeli-Arab Conflict (Hebrew, 1968) has remained to this day the seminal work on the subject. [2] Harkabi did not hesitate to refer to the phenomenon plainly as anti-Semitism. This was followed by Bernard Lewis's 1971 article "Semites and anti-Semites" and further work by him on this issue. There have been a few others: Rivka Yadlin, Norman Stillman, Bat Ye'or, Ron Nettler. But these remained the exception: the overwhelming majority of Middle Eastern experts, in Israel and abroad, have shunned the subject.


The explanation of this phenomenon involves a combination of psychological factors and ideological and political motives. One must bear in mind that the entire Zionist enterprise was intended to solve the problem of anti-Semitism. Hence, the discovery that the hatred which Jews thought they had escaped when they left Europe is endemic in the Middle East was something many people preferred to suppress or deny.

There is, perhaps, another, more political, motivation behind the unwillingness to deal with Arab anti-Jewish attitudes: the fear that the exposure of anti-Semitic sentiment on the Arab side would reinforce political intransigence in Israel and play into the hands of those political groups which oppose any territorial compromise. This concern is not without reason.


However, those who favor a compromise-solution-oriented Israeli policy must recognize that deliberately ignoring Arab anti-Semitism is not only intellectually wrong but politically counterproductive. Failure to monitor Arab anti-Semitism would be reckless negligence; it must be closely studied. It is an unfortunate, distressing fact that Arab anti-Semitism is now the most dangerous form of hatred for Jews, wherever they are, since the late 1930s. It is especially so because of the close collaboration between Arab anti-Semites and their Western counterparts.


What is Arab anti-Semitism?

The obvious definition is: if it's anti-Jewish, produced by Arabs, in Arabic and intended for Arab audiences – it's Arab anti-Semitism. In addition, Arab anti-Semites also frequently address foreign audiences to recruit their support.


The Distinctive Features of Arab anti-Semitism

The following conclusions have been formed on the basis of extensive monitoring by MEMRI of a wide variety of Arabic publications and forums (newspapers, magazines, television programs, Friday sermons in mosques, books and websites).


Arab anti-Jewish propaganda appears to comprise three major components:

a) Anti-Jewish opinions derived from traditional Islamic sources

b) anti-Semitic stereotypes, images and accusations of European and Christian origin

c) Denial of the Holocaust and the equation of Zionism with Nazism (this too is of course of Western provenance, but its special pivotal role warrants special attention).


The Islamic Component

Apes and Pigs

An extremely common insult directed at Jews, not only in Friday sermons but also in political articles, is that they are, or are descended from, apes and pigs. This abusive reference is based on a number of Qur'anic verses which state that some Jews were turned into apes and pigs by God, as a punishment for violating the Sabbath. [3]


This insult should not be dismissed as mere vulgar invective, nor should the belief that Jews were transmogrified into apes, pigs or other creatures be seen merely as a sign of primitive magical thinking. Repeated reference to Jews as despised beasts dehumanizes them and provides justification for their destruction. The following are just few examples of the use made of this insult in a variety of forums:


In one of his sermons, Saudi Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam and preacher at the Al-Haram mosque – that is the Ka'ba mosque in Mecca, the most important shrine in the Muslim world, said:


"Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of [God's] words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers... the scum of the human race whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs… These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption..." [4]


The image has pervaded the public consciousness, even that of children. In May 2002, Iqraa, the Saudi satellite television station, which, according to its website, seeks "to highlight aspects of Arab Islamic culture that inspire admiration … to highlight the true, tolerant image of Islam and refute the accusations directed against it," interviewed a three-and-a-half-year-old "real Muslim girl" about Jews, on "The Muslim Women's Magazine" program. The little girl was asked whether she liked Jews; she answered, "no." When asked why not, she said that Jews were "apes and pigs." "Who said this?" the moderator asked. The girl answered, "Our God." "Where did He say this?" "In the Qur'an." At the end of the interview, the moderator said with satisfaction: "No [parents] could wish for Allah to give them a more believing girl than she... May Allah bless her and both her father and mother." [5]


Salim 'Azzouz, columnist for the Egyptian opposition daily Al-Ahrar, which is affiliated with the religious Liberal Party, described Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 as follows: "They fled with only the skin on their bodies, like pigs flee. And why say 'like,' when they actually are pigs and apes?"


The Promise of the Stones and the Trees – Wa'd al-hajar wa-'l-shajar

Another very popular anti-Jewish traditional motif is "The Promise of the Stone and the Tree." A widely quoted prophetic tradition (hadith) affirms that before the Day of Judgment, the Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them. Seeking refuge, the Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and trees will call out, "Oh Muslim, oh Servant of Allah, a Jew is hiding behind me. Come and kill him." Shortly before the war in Iraq, a preacher in Baghdad's largest mosque quoted this hadith on television, as he brandished a long sword; his cry, "We shall cut off their heads!" swept his audience of thousands into ecstasy.


Western Elements

Arab anti-Semitism has adopted all Europe's anti-Semitic myths, even those that Western anti-Semites have discarded as too primitive. The most obvious examples are: the notorious blood libel, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the charge – rather strange for Muslims – that the Jews killed Jesus.


The Blood Libel

The Blood Libel is still current in the Arab and Muslim world, and crops up even in the most important government newspapers. Some writers rehash and recycle these familiar accusations, putting a new twist on them, such as, for example, that on the Jewish holiday of Purim, Jews use human blood for their traditional pastries.


Blood libel accusations in the Arab media are most commonly encountered in the context of criticism of Israel's actions against the Palestinians. One instance of this caused the Paris Supreme Court, in August 2002, to subpoena Ibrahim Nafi', editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram. Nafi' was charged with incitement to anti-Semitism and racist violence for having permitted the publication of an article entitled "Jewish Matza is Made from Arab Blood" in the October 28, 2000 edition of Al-Ahram.The article connected the 1840 Damascus blood libel with Israel's activity in the occupied territories. [6]


It is worthwhile noting that the charges against Nafi', who is chairman of the Arab Journalist Union, aroused a storm of protest and outrage throughout the Arab world. They were described in the Arab media as "intellectual terrorism," "a blow to freedom of expression," "a Zionist attack on the Egyptian press," "extortion by the Zionist lobby in France," and even as "an insult to the entire Arab press," as Nafi' is its senior representative.


The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Since 1927, when it was translated into Arabic, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been used frequently in anti-Jewish discourse in the Arab world, to back up claims that there is a "Jewish plot to take over the world." Many Arab shapers of public opinion cite this fabricated document to show how the Jews' malicious plan, as set out in the Protocols, is now coming to fruition. The Jews are accused of using devious methods for accomplishing their goal: controlling the economy and the media, corrupting morals and encouraging international and internal conflict.


The use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Arab media became a topic of discussion worldwide in late 2002 with the screening of the Egyptian television series Knight Without a Horse throughout the Arab world over Ramadan (November-December). [7] In Ramadan 2003, also for prime-time screening, there was a series devoted to smearing the Jews and "exposing" their evil machinations. The Syrian-produced series, Al-Shatat (The Diaspora) , purported to show Jewish life in the Diaspora and the emergence of Zionism, and was broadcast by Hizbullah's Al-Manar satellite station . It included gruesome scenes such as the ritual murder of a Christian boy and the ritual murder of a Jew who married a Gentile. The series also shows how Amschel Rothschild, the founder of the purported secret world Jewish government, instructed his sons from his deathbed to start wars and corrupt society all over the world to serve the financial interests and the political goals of the Jews.


It is interesting to note that the producers of Al-Shatat, conscious of the previous years' outcry against Knight Without A Horse, took pains to screen a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode stating that the series was not based on the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zionbut on historical facts and research, including writings by Jews and Israelis.


When the Protocols are mentioned in the Arab media, they are referred to as unquestionably authentic. To be sure, there are many Arab writers who are well aware that the Protocols are a forgery. Nevertheless, most of them, with few exceptions, continue to make use of the Protocols, because, they argue, "it does not matter whether they are fact or fiction: their 'predictions' have largely come true."


One example of this is an article by Lebanese Christian journalist Ghassan Tueni: "Had we not known that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were forged by Russian intelligence in the 19th century … we would say that what is happening in the world today is exactly what world Jewry planned, due to the great similarity [between what's actually happening and] what is falsely attributed to [world Jewry]. [I refer] to the conspiracy to take over the world and to plunder it; to the deeds [of world Jewry] everywhere, and to the financial, political, and military status [world Jewry] has attained. This is in addition to their attempt to destroy everything that others hold sacred." [8]


There are, as mentioned above, a few notable exceptions, among them some prominent figures, who publicly denounced the Protocols as forgeries. These include Syrian philosopher Dr. Sadeq Jalal al-'Azm, President Mubarak's advisor Usama al-Baz, and Dr. Abd al-Wahhab al-Masiri, an Egyptian authority on Jewish history and author of an Arabic-language encyclopedia of Judaism.


The Jews Murdered Jesus

This ancient Christian accusation has become standard in Arab anti-Semitic discourse.


One example: Arafat advisor Bassam Abu Sharif referred in the Saudi London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat to the statue of the Virgin Mary damaged by Israeli fire during the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. He wrote, "The sad smile of the Virgin Mary as she shields her son the Messiah did not prevent the soldiers of the Israeli occupation from taking up positions to shoot at the face of this Palestinian angel [i.e. Jesus] and murder the smile… so as to murder what they hadn't managed to murder throughout 2,000 years. In Bethlehem, a new crime was committed. This, of course, was a failed attempt to murder peace, love, and tolerance, just as their forefathers tried to murder the prophetic message when they hammered their nails and iron stakes through the body of the Messiah into the wooden cross." [9]


Calling the Jews Christ-killers in anti-Jewish Arab propaganda is particularly ironic, because according to Islamic belief, Jesus did not die on the cross, and the Christians are distorting the truth.


Holocaust Denial and Zionism is Nazism

The most common trend today in Arabanti-Zionist writing is equating Zionism with Nazism. Articles and public discussions in the Arab world point out an ostensible similarity between the two movements' ideologies, particularly with regard to racism. They claim that just as the Nazis believed in the superiority of the Aryan race, the Zionists believe in a "Chosen People" – i.e. the Jews; it follows that neither movement rules out military expansion.


An additional claim is that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to annihilate the Jewish people; since the Zionists considered Palestine the only appropriate destination for Jewish emigration, they refrained from engaging in strictly humanitarian efforts to rescue Jews. Such claims are the focus of a 1982 doctoral dissertation by top Palestinian Authority official and PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, at Moscow's Institute of Oriental Studies. The Arabic version of the dissertation was published in 1984. [10]


Another of these claims refers to the current political situation in the Middle East. Actions by Israel and the Zionists against the Palestinian people are equated with the Nazis' crimes against the Jews – or said to be even worse.


The political significance of these claims is clear: if there was no Holocaust, the Germans need feel no guilt toward the Jews; on the other hand, if there was no Holocaust, then the Germans – and the rest of the Western world – owe a debt of guilt to the Palestinians. If Jews are doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews, then Germans need feel no shame. This is the nexus which connects Middle-Eastern anti-Semitism to Western anti-Semitism, creating a strategic anti-Semitic axis.


Demonizing the Jew

As a 'logical' conclusion of all the above comes the demonization of Jews, individually and collectively. Despite the information accumulated about the identities of the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks – officials, journalists, and religious leaders throughout the Arab and Muslim world have continued to claim that the perpetrators of the attacks were not Arabs or Muslims. The claim that American and or Jewish/Israeli elements carried out the attacks has become an accepted, common myth in the Arab world. According to some versions of this grotesque fantasy, it is U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell who masterminded the attacks. [11]


What Can Be Done?

Finally, the question is: what should be done? The first step is to understand the dangers which Arab anti-Semitism presents. It shapes public opinion throughout the Arab world and creates an atmosphere in which Jews, individually and collectively, are not considered to be fully human. This is in itself an obstacle to peace; the peace agreements which Israel signed with Egypt and Jordan have not led to normalization. Countering Arab anti-Semitism is, therefore, not merely a matter of combating falsehood and prejudice: it is a vital component in the struggle to improve relations between Jews and Arabs.


On a practical level what needs to be done is the following: Arab anti-Semitism must be monitored and its manifestations must be made available to Western media and opinion-makers. Its publications must be translated into Western languages in the hope that exposure of these virulent materials will lead to international protests and diplomatic pressure on the relevant Arab governments and institutions.


To be sure, there are those who argue that this kind of response draws attention to the views of a minority of cranks who would otherwise go unnoticed. This position overlooks the fact that much of this anti-Jewish hate literature appears in mainstream newspapers and magazines – many of which are government sponsored – and on highly popular and influential TV channels. Turning a blind eye to Arab anti-Semitism will only encourage the most extreme elements in the Arab world to flourish unchecked and increase their malignant political influence.


Recent experiences have shown that Arab governments and intellectuals are not indifferent to protests and outside pressures. Usama al-Baz's articles last December, in which he denounced anti-Semitism, were a welcome step forward. Equally significant is the news (published in the Saudi daily Al-Watan on March 14, 2003) that the Institute of Islamic Studies at Cairo's religious Al-Azhar University has recommended that Muslim preachers refrain from comparing Jews to pigs and apes. It is doubtful that either of these steps would have been taken were it not for the recent protests and criticism in the U.S. Congress and media. [12]


For all these reasons, it is obvious that there is no alternative but to continue unremittingly with the tedious task of monitoring and exposing the appalling products of Arab anti-Semitism.


* Menahem Milson is professor of Arabic Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and MEMRI's academic advisor. This article is based on a February 20, 2003 lecture at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of anti-Semitism.


[1] Bernard Lewis, Islam in History: Ideas, Men and Events in the Middle East (London: Alcove Press, 1973), pp. 134-35.

[2] Y. Harkabi, Emdat ha'aravim besikhsukh yisrael 'arav ("The Arabs' Position in the Israeli-Arab Conflict," Tel Aviv: Devir, 1968); an English version was published under the title Arab Attitudes to Israel (Jerusalem: Keter, 1972).

[3] Qur'an, 2:65, 5:60, 7:166. Two of these texts (2:65 and 7:166) specify that violation of the Sabath was the cause of the transmogrification. In one instance (5:60), this is mentioned as a punishment brought upon ahl al-kitab ("the people of the book," a term signifying both Jews and Christians) who refused to accept the true faith.

[4] See MEMRI Special Report No. 11 (November 1, 2002), by Aluma Solnick, 'Based on Koranic Verses, Interpretations, and Traditions, Muslim Clerics State: The Jews Are the Descendants of Apes, Pigs, And Other Animals'.

[5] Iqraa Television (Saudi Arabia), May 7, 2002.

[6] An infamous affair in which a group of Damascene Jews were accused of the ritual murder of an Italian Capuchin friar, Thomas, and his Muslim servant. The incident reflected the manipulation of Christian anti-Semitism and popular Muslim anti-Jewish sentiment aggravated by the struggles of the European powers that were vying at that time for influence in the Ottoman Empire.

[7] On November 6th, 2002 (the first night of Ramadan), some Arab television channels (including the Egyptian State Television) aired the first segment of a 41-part serial called "A Knight Without a Horse," which is based on "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."It should be noted that the nights of Ramadan are considered peak time of television viewing in Arab and Muslim countries. The series sparked protests in the West, with the U.S. State Department calling on the Egyptian government to prevent the broadcast – a demand that was rejected out of hand by Egyptian Information Minister Safwat Al-Sharif. The series aroused much debate in the Egyptian and Arab press. Most writers supported the airing of the series, but a few criticized Egypt's obsession with anti-Semitic writings. The series was viewed and approved for broadcast by a committee appointed by the Egyptian Censor. A committee from the Egyptian Radio and Television Association declared the series "a landmark in the history of Arab drama." The Egyptian Information Minister stated that "the dramatic views expressed by the series contain nothing that can be considered anti-Semitic." See MEMRI's Inquiry and Analysis Series Nos. 109, 113 and 114 (Nov. 8, Dec. 10 and Dec. 20, 2002, respectively).

[8] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 28, 2000. The article is taken from the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 20, 2002.

[10] See Yael Yehoshua, "Abu Mazen: A Political Profile" (MEMRI, Special Report No. 15, April 29, 2003) chapter V (Zionism and Holocaust Denial).

[11] A New anti-Semitic Myth in the Middle East Media: The September 11 Attacks Were Perpetrated by the Jews (Washington, DC: MEMRI, 2002).

[12] Yigal Carmon, "Harbingers of Change in the anti-Semitic Discourse in the Arab World" (MEMRI, Inquiry and Analysis Series, No. 135, April 23, 2003).



A Picture of Hate: Graphic Anti-Semitism in Muslim Media

Dan Pattir

The phenomenon of demonizing Israel and the Jews through cartoons in the Arab press is neither new nor recent. It has been part and parcel of its mode of editorial conduct since the establishment of the Jewish state more than 57 years ago.

Indeed, reviewing many Arabic-language publications over the years, one cannot escape the conclusion that caricatures have always been perceived by Arab regimes - which own or control the media outlets of their countries - as a legitimate tool that need not and should not be restrained or refined in the no-holds-barred fight against Israel.

Anyone entertaining the notion that the demonization of Israel and the Jews is a thing of the past need only look at recent publications in the Arab press. Daily, weekly and monthly papers, periodicals and magazines are loaded with cartoons containing the worst kind of anti-Semitic content.

This is true of most - if not all - Arab countries, even those far away from our immediate vicinity. And it is regrettably true of places like Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, all of which have concluded peace agreements with Israel.

These cartoons are always rude and brutal, with a bloodthirsty punch. All of the cartoonists and their editors seem to treat the subject in the same way: through denial of the Holocaust; the Jew as a repulsive stereotype; Israel as a Nazi-like entity; and the Jews as a whole as the greatest existing threat to humankind.

It's important to reiterate that in most cases, the indigenous Arab media does not exercise any freedom of speech; such media is either state-owned or state-controlled. In Egypt, for example, all major dailies and weeklies follow the government's policy lines, and its editors are hand-picked by the president. Hence, editorial cartoons cannot run contrary to state-directed guidelines.

In other cases, such as in some Gulf states or in Lebanon - or even in London and Paris, where certain Arabic-language publications originate, and are circulated in the Arab world (Al Khayat and Sharq-al-Ausat are examples) - although their outlets are privately owned, invisible strings are attached. In other words, their supposed editorial freedom is often questionable.

What is most amazing is the lack of any positive cartoons related to Israel, even at the height of peaceful negotiations (such as Camp David, the Oslo agreements, the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty or Israel's disengagement from Gaza). None exist, not even in the Gulf states that are regarded as having higher journalistic standards, being more open-minded politically and less antagonistic toward Israel.

There are no signs of restraint when it comes to anti-Semitic images, ranging from Jews as a Satanic force trying to undermine Islam, Jews as an international cabal seeking to dominate the world, Jews controlling the American government or equating Jews and Israelis to Nazis.

This is a practice that can inflame dangerous passions in countries where many illiterate youth are fed distorted visual impressions of Jews and of Judaism.

The result of such unrelenting anti-Semitic onslaughts is that an entire generation of Egyptians that has come of age since the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treat tends to view Israel, Zionism and the Jews in a highly negative way. The same is true of Palestinians whose education has been controlled by the P.A. since 1994.

This constitutes a major setback in the normalization process with Israel. It also contradicts the peace treaties between Israel and its immediate neighbors, which call for the "prevention of incitement and hostile propaganda as specified in the Interim Agreement" (the Hebron Protocol of 1997), and in the 1998 Wye River Memorandum stating that "the Palestinian side will issue a decree prohibiting all forms of incitement to violence or terror."

So far, not only have the above not been eradicated, they've being perpetuated.

In his book, Semites and Anti-Semites, Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis writes: "The demonization of Jews goes further than it had ever done in Western literature, with the exception of Germany during the Nazi period."

The question posed by Lewis, against the background of the ongoing practice of editorial cartoons on this issue in most Arab media outlets, is of great importance: "Given the scale on which all these activities are taking place, the question is no longer whether Arab governments are pursuing anti-Semitic policies; the question is why were these policies adopted, how far have they gone, and how deep is their impact?"


History teacher fights anti-Semitism in France

Staff Reporter

PARIS — Iannis Roder stands resolutely on the frontlines in the battle against anti-Semitism in France.

The 34-year-old junior high school history teacher has been fighting racial prejudice on a microcosmic level in his classroom at least since the outbreak of the latest wave of anti-Semitic violence here about five years ago.

The majority of the attackers who have targeted French Jews have been identified as Muslims. Sadly enough, their anti-Jewish animus has surfaced in Roder’s classes in the form of comments uttered by a handful of his Arab and African Muslim students, aged 14 to 16.

Roder works in Saint Denis, one of the drab working-class suburbs north of Paris where serious civil unrest occurred last fall. Like the rioters themselves, most of his students are Muslims of North African and black African origin.

“Many of them have come under the influence of radical imams,” he said in an interview. “Since they’re in difficult social and economic circumstances, they are prey to extremism. School, therefore, is the only place where they can hear the truth.”

Nearly four years ago, Roder and seven of his fellow teachers who toil in these depressed suburbs sounded an alarm about the racist, and particularly the anti-Semitic, attitudes among a small minority of their students.

Their book of essays, The Lost Territories of the Republic, was something of cause célèbre, as well as a best-seller.

“It was an eye opener to politicians,” Roder said.

The minister of education summoned them for discussions and one of President Jacques Chirac’s advisers conferred with them.

Roder believes that The Lost Territories of the Republic, scheduled to be published in an English edition, was a factor in the government’s decision in 2004 to ban the hijab – the Muslim girls’ head scarf – and other overt religious symbols in French public schools.

“This provision creates a neutral atmosphere and gender equality in schools,” he said.

The first sign of open anti-Semitism among Muslim students in the suburbs appeared during and after the 1991 Gulf War. The eruption of the second Palestinian uprising in September 2000 and the terrorist incidents in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, emboldened them, he said.

In an average year, Roder said, two to three Muslim students in his class of 25, where three-quarters of the pupils are Muslims, make derogatory outbursts. In a few cases, the verbal abusers are Roman Catholics. In the face of these unsettling incidents, the remaining students are usually conspicuously silent.

In a classic anti-Semitic canard, one student claimed that Jews had been forewarned to avoid the World Trade Center, destroyed by Arab terrorists on Sept. 11. This accusation was just the opening shot in a series of calumnies, Roder said.

“Jewish students were singled out as representatives of Israel. They were not perceived as French citizens. They were reproached for being Jewish. They were described as misers and as intrinsically evil. Their physical appearance was an issue. Still other students talked about the role of Jews in the media and finance.”

This abuse usually bubbles to the surface when Roder teaches his class about the Holocaust, a mandatory subject in French schools since the mid-1980s.

“I remember one student saying, ‘Are you really going to tell me Jews are victims?’”

None of his students has actually denied the Holocaust, but once, when Roder pointed out that six million Jews were exterminated by the Nazis and their collaborators, he heard snide comments ranging from “Hitler would have been a good Muslim” to “The Jews deserved their fate.”

Some even wondered out loud whether Roder – who has a cousin in Toronto – is Jewish. In fact, he is a Jew. During the Holocaust, his grandparents, Jews of Hungarian and Romanian descent, went into hiding in France and were helped by a policeman and a prison warden. Six of his French relatives were deported and four survived. Distant relatives in Hungary were deported, too.

Over the years, Roder has had only a handful of Jewish students, but this year, he has none.

All the Jewish students he has taught, having been tormented by their fellow students’ anti-Semitic taunts, left his class and switched to Jewish and even Catholic schools.

Roder’s responds to his pupils’ anti-Semitism with icy detachment. “I ask them to elaborate. I want them to release their emotions. Then I demolish their arguments. They listen, but two days later, they repeat their comments.”

He admits that their remarks are personally hurtful, and that he has considered asking for a transfer. “It is hard for me, but these students need me.”

In general, they come from socially conservative backgrounds in which anti-Semitism is entrenched in their culture.

Since their grasp of the Arab-Israeli conflict is very shaky, they spout well-worn cliches: Jews stole Palestinian lands. Jews kill Palestinians. Jews are guilty of genocide.

All too often, their vocabularies are extremely limited, and they have trouble articulating ideas. “They don’t understand the world.” As a result, a disturbingly high proportion of his students fail to advance to university and become members of the underclass.

They are also convinced the world is against them. “They’re locked into a psychosis of victimization,” he observed.

The schools they attend tend to be wracked by violence, and bullying is a common phenomenon. Teachers like Roder have been subjected to what he calls “ physical aggression,” although he notes that up to now, he has not been attacked by a student.

French politicians are not only aware of the new, post-2000 anti-Semitism, but want to combat it, he said.

Roder expressed concern that last year’s riots may erupt yet again, perhaps on a larger scale, if the yawning chasm between the disaffected youths of the suburbs and French society is not sufficiently bridged.

To Roder, Islamic fundamentalism is a problem that Muslims themselves must ultimately address. “But moderate Muslims are not speaking up,” he said, voicing despair.


"At War with Islamic Fascists"

by Daniel Pipes
August 14, 2006

In his first response to the major terror airline scare in London, President Bush said on Aug. 10 that “The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.”

His use of the term “Islamic fascists” spurred attention and controversy, especially among Islamists.

At a pro-Hizbullah rally in front of the White House, on Aug. 12, the crowd (in the Washington Post’s description) “grew most agitated when speakers denounced President Bush’s references to Islam.” In particular, the president of the Muslim American Society, Esam Omesh, won a massive roar of approval when he (deliberately?) mischaracterized the president’s statement: “Mr. Bush: Stop calling Islam ‘Islamic fascism.’”

Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called the term “ill-advised” and “counter-productive,” repeating CAIR’s usual conceit that violence in the name of Islam has, in fact, nothing to do with Islam. Even more preposterously, Awad went on to suggest that we “take advantage of these incidents to make sure that we do not start a religious war against Islam and Muslims.”

CAIR’s board chairman, Parvez Ahmed, sent an open letter to President Bush: “You have on many occasions said Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’ Today you equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism.” Actually, Bush did not do that (he equated just one form of “the religion of peace” with fascism), but Ahmed inadvertently pointed to the evolution in the president’s – and the country’s – thinking away from bromides to real thinking.

Edina Lekovic from the Muslim Public Affairs Council repeated the MPAC argument of the need to cultivate Islamists for counterterrorism: “When the people we need most in the fight against terrorism, American Muslims, feel alienated by the president’s characterization of these supposed terrorists, that does more damage than good.” (Supposed terrorists?) Her case, however, has recently been undercut by the example of Mubin Shaikh and the Toronto 17, in which an Islamist informer has been widely shunned by fellow Muslims. Lekovic did, however, make a valid semantic point: “It would have been far more accurate had he linked the situation to a segment of people rather than an entire faith, along the lines of, say, radical Muslim fascists.”

The Muslim Association of Britain announced that it “condemns” Bush’s wording and worries that such comments “gives yet another excuse for the targeting of the Muslim minority by extreme right-wing forces in the West.” This fear is disingenuous, given how few anti-Muslim incidents do take place in the West, compared to the number of Muslim attacks on Westerners.

There are also rumblings of a more aggressive Muslim response. “Some hypermarkets in Riyadh,” reports the Arab News, “had already withdrawn American products from their shelves in response to the US’ anti-Islam campaign.” Will this incident lead to a further separation of civilizations?