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August 6, 2012 2:58 pm

Egyptian Ramadan Programs Rife With Anti-Semitism

avatar by Atara Arbesfeld

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Muslims waiting for sunset during Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt. Photo: wiki commons.

A report from the Anti-Defamation League has revealed that popular television broadcasts from Arab countries, in honor of Ramadan, are “rife with anti-Semitic themes and expressions of hatred for Israel.”

Although anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda are common on Arab television, there is an increase in such material in specials aired for Ramadan, the month in the lunar-based Muslim calendar requiring  practitioners of Islam to fast, pray, recite the Koran and give charity every day of the month until sunset.

Firqat Naji Attalah, a nightly comedy series that is aired through the MBC network, offers “the sweetest jokes about the ‘cheap Jew,'” according to the network’s publicity material for the show.

The main char­ac­ter of the show, Naji Attalah, is a diplo­mat work­ing in the Egypt­ian embassy in Tel Aviv who decides to rob­ an Israeli bank. The first episode depicts an Israeli bank man­ager speak­ing Ara­bic with an Iraqi-Jewish accent, offering Attalah a cup that con­tains only a small amount of cof­fee without sugar. The Jewish bank manager then tries to cheat Attalah while count­ing his money.  In another scene in the comedy, a dri­ver for the Egypt­ian embassy celebrates violence against Israel by crying out, “When Hamas or Hezbol­lah launch a mis­sile on them [Israelis], one’s heart jumps out of joy.”

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Il Hukm Ba’d il Muzawla, a Candid Camera-style program that airs on An-Nahar TV in Egypt, is another “Ramadan favorite” that seeks to trigger “irrational and blatantly anti-Semitic reactions from its audience,” according to the ADL.  Some guests on the show “have brutally beaten the staff” when they were purposely misinformed  that the show’s staff members were Jewish.

Also on Egyptian television is the biweekly show Ashab il-Sabt, aired by the Salafist channel Ar-Rahma, starring an anti-Semitic Hebrew literature professor of an Egyptian University who uses the show as a platform for espousing “conspiracy theories from ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion'” as well as other fallacies about Jews, according to the ADL report.

In Lebanon, the Hezbollah-run Al-Manar channel has a series called “Al Ghalibun,” portraying Israelis “as cruel invaders of Lebanon and glorifies terrorism against Israel,” said the ADL.

“Ramadan is where the television networks enjoy high viewership numbers and a captive audience, and several networks in the Arab world are once again peddling anti-Semitic content,” explained ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.  “While this year is perhaps no different from what we have seen in previous years, it is deeply disturbing to see how anti-Semitism is so casually treated on some of these programs, where conspiracy theories such as those espoused in the notorious forgery, ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ are repeated as if they were fact, and where Israelis are portrayed using the grossest caricatures.”

Ramadan is observed by Muslims around the world to commemorate their prophet Muhammad’s first revelation at the beginning of the month. Ironically, the origins of fasting in Islam may be linked to Jewish traditions. According to Islamic texts from hadith collections, Muhammad proclaimed a day of fasting after encountering Jews observing a fast day in Medinah.

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