Lurid Antisemitic Propaganda Spotted on Sale at Saudi Flagship Book Fair in Riyadh
More than two dozen openly antisemitic books have been spotted for sale at the 2021 international book fair in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, which opened this week under the patronage of King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that the books on sale at the fair featured “a broad array of anti-Jewish tropes, including the blood libel, Holocaust denial, Jewish-Masonic conspiracy theories, and portrayals of Jews as evil puppet masters and the killers of divine prophets.” The book fair in Riyadh is reputedly the largest such event in the region, with over 1,000 publishing houses in attendance.
David Weinberg, the ADL’s Washington, DC director for international affairs, noted in a blog post that “many of the objectionable books at this year’s event were previously flagged by ADL to Saudi officials after the country’s second-largest book fair took place in Jeddah during December of 2019.”
Weinberg continued: “In most cases, the same publishing houses that promoted those problematic books during 2019 are now exhibiting the same antisemitic titles at the current book fair this year in Riyadh.”
Lurid antisemitic titles on sale included “Blood for the Matzah of Zion,” “Ten Heads of Evil: Engineers of the American-Zionist Plot to Fracture our Arab World and Ignite Revolutions” and “The Jewish Lie of the Holocaust.” More well-known antisemitic texts were also on sale, including “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” fabricated by the Russian Tsarist secret police in 1903, and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
Weinberg observed that the presence of antisemitic books at a prestigious event seemed “at odds with some more positive Saudi trends.”
For example, textbooks in Saudi schools had expunged references to the “Protocols” and local media had carried a feature explaining its murky history, Weinberg wrote.
“It is long overdue for Saudi Arabia’s state-run book fairs to take a similar approach to condemning and combating such antisemitic incitement,” he wrote.
Local media reported that 28 international publishing houses from France, Italy, India, Australia, and the US were attending the Riyadh fair.
“This is the first time we have been here as there were not a lot of English publishers exhibited at this fair.” Brad Hebel, a director from the Associated Press, told Arab News. “I think for people it comes as a surprise and a delight to see all of these English books.”