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April 6, 2016 11:56 am

State Department Denies Knowledge of Antisemitic Material at Saudi Book Fair Attended by US Embassy Reps (VIDEO)

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US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Photo: Video Screenshot.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. Photo: Video Screenshot.

The State Department on Tuesday denied knowledge of antisemitic literature promoted at a Saudi book fair in March, at which US Embassy staff were prominently in attendance.

During his daily briefing with reporters, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner responded to questions from the Associated Press‘s Matt Lee on the issue of US backing of the event, which had been highlighted by pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon and reported by The Algemeiner hours earlier.

“So, first of all, this is a – actually, first of all, we condemn antisemitism in all of its forms, as well as any other hate speech,” Toner said. “Second is, representatives of the US Embassy in Riyadh have participated in the International Riyadh Book Fair for multiple years as part of an effort to essentially distribute books to Saudi citizens that include books about democracy, tolerance, diversity, human rights, et cetera. The book fair itself is run by the Saudi Government’s Ministry of Culture and Information. So what I want to clearly state is we were just a participant. We weren’t aware that these books were going to be featured in this book fair. So we’re not a partner, we’re not a funder, we’re not a sponsor. We’re just simply a participant and we obviously, as I said, condemn any kind of antisemitic literature.”

Toner was referring to the report that literature on sale at the Riyadh International Book Fair 2016 included the antisemitic propaganda work, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; books on the alleged Jewish connection to Freemasonry; and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf — and to the fact that Deputy Chief of Mission Timothy Lenderking at the US Embassy in Riyadh and US Cultural Attache David Edginton were in attendance.

According to Arab NewsEdginton congratulated the Saudi leadership on hosting the event.

“First, I would like to congratulate Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Ministry of Culture and Information for professionally organizing this large event. We are very happy to participate in this major Saudi culture event because of its importance to our bilateral cultural relations,” he said. “The fair is a good opportunity for us and all participants and visitors to exchange ideas and information freely.”

When asked to specify the US Embassy’s involvement, Toner asserted, “We have a booth at the fair, sell a wide assortment of American books, biography, children books, other materials, study in the US, and we do pay a fee for just that space.”

After Lee noted that he recalled the book fair also featuring antisemitic titles in previous years, Toner said the US was “not aware of the history here. My understanding is that we were not aware that these books were going to be featured at the fair. And I can also check on whether we raised this directly, our concerns, with the Saudi government.” 

When asked whether the US intends to participate in the fair next year, Toner replied: “I think we would weigh this very heavily, considering this incident.”

Watch the full exchange below:

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  • willikers

    I believe them. They could also use the same answer to most questions, but they are neither smart enough nor honest enough. Terrible to say, but I don’t think it can be refuted.

  • Paul Grad

    So the Obama Administration promotes, participates in, and praises Jew-haters’ book fairs, and here is the proof. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it is a duck.

  • Antisemitism is also ignored on social media, adding some translation from the Arabic to a recent item on your site:

  • Simone Miller

    Since this has been an ongoing problem, Toner should have been aware that the Saudis had been selling anti-Semitic material in the past and would probably continue to do so. If he was not aware, he was not doing his job properly.

  • Jonah

    I thought you would understand the basic premise of being Jews and dealing with Obamas state department. If you believe one thing they say that is one to many. Now if they said all roads lead to Israel and we are paving the way for the jihadists of the world and arming them, for Israel’s ultimate demise…that you can believe.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    What liars they are.

    You can also buy Mein Kampf at any bookstall or book store in Egypt and Israel has diplomatic relations with them.

    The hatred just goes on and on.

    When does Israel ever complain?

  • &0 years after the holocaust antisemitism is back in fashion and acceptable.

  • robert davis

    Toner says the US is a participant to the fair : precisely THIS IS the problem : he participates to a fair spreading antisemitism, lies, Hitler etc. Participation IS COMPLICITY.

  • Reform School

    The only reason an administration have “spokespersons” is the “plausible deniability” they provide to shield officials from charges ranging from perjury to treason. Broadcast reporters receive the high earnings and influence that come with large support staffs and celebrity status. It’s not called “Programming” for no reason, folks! If so few of us have “Steinway and Sons” emblazoned across our foreheads, why do we keep letting them play us like pianos?

  • Jak41

    F…..g hypocritical SD Wasp or Jew… whatever…!
    .Liars govern USA for now a lot of Decades and Centuries!
    Cherokees and Sioux and Apaches and Japanese know what I am telling about!
    ” Waiting for Visa” Jews also, since the early 30ies to at least 1949 …
    Americans who saved our lives in 1944 aren’t anymore representatives of America Now.
    From Soros to KKK it is a desintagrating sh…..

  • Josephine Bacon

    The Arab countries routinely include antisemitic material in every book fair and exhibition in which they participate. For example, when Saudi Arabia was the “schwerpunkt” the focus country at the Frankfurt Book Fair a few years ago, it did not hesitate to display antisemitic material. Complaints fell on deaf ears. Either the State Department does not contain any Arabic-speakers, which I hope is not the case, or they deliberately condone the Saudi attitude to Jews, the latter being the more likely scenario.

  • fred

    Oh. how blind are those who do not want to see.

  • stevenl

    USSD in cahoot with SA! Old story.
    As Bassam Eid stated, the West has NO interest whatsoever in a peace btw the Pal and IL. That is why the West keeps beating on IL and keeps giving a pass for the past 68 years to the Muslim world.

  • Michael Kurtzig

    How can the State Department be unaware of the anti-Semitic policies of the Saudi government. I understand that in year’s past and perhaps even today, the King presented his guests with a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, funded the translation and distribution of Mein Kampf in Turkey. There is nothing new in a country that defines itself with Sharia law, keeps its women as second rate citizens, if that; and continues its ruthless dictatorship over its people. The recent program on PBS demonstrated convincingly what a hateful regime we are associated with.

  • It’s hard to keep one’s nose clean at this kind of event. The best you can do is have the organizers stipulate that hate literature be off-limits.

  • tiki

    I cannot believe that anyone in the State department would be SO TONE DEAF, pun unintended, to not expect anti-Semitism on the part of ANY Arab. It seems that oil and money blinds them all.

    They act as if anti-Semitism is something new this year. Anti-Semitism is millenia old and they think this is the first time?

    I don’t have a job due to anti-Semitism, simply because I don’t work on Saturday, even though I offer to work Sun-Friday, i.e. 6 days a week. This is happening now in the ‘land of the free’.

  • dante

    so, they’re either: A. incompetent fools, or B. liars. the correct answer is actually, Answer: C. Both A. and B. (not really a trick question and one gets credit for both Answer A. and Answer B.)