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January 13, 2015

Arab Cartoonists Reflect on the Charlie Hebdo Attack

In a show of solidarity with their colleagues, Arab cartoonists in newspapers across the Middle East condemned the terrorist attack on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 journalists and cartoonists dead.

Almost all editorial cartoonists addressed the attack through their caricatures.  Among the themes was the outcry over the crossing of limits; the condemnation of extreme Islam and the feeling that moderate Islam has also been unjustly attacked.

And just as the attack was referred to in some western media outlets as “France’s 9/11”, so did some Arab cartoonists use two pencils in place of the World Trade Center.

Some cartoonists also politicized the tragedy and used the meme from last week’s attack as another opportunity to criticize Israel.  For example, a cartoon in the Palestinian Al-Ayyam, depicted an Israeli soldier aiming a rifle at two Palestinians in front of an olive tree holding a sign on which is written “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) – implying that Palestinians are targeted in the same way the Charlie Hebdo staff were.



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May 22, 2014

Palestinians Welcome Pope Francis To Bethlehem With Anti-Semitism

On Sunday, when Pope Francis celebrates mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, he may be confronted with billboards depicting Jesus being attacked by Israeli soldiers.jesus-palestinian-pope-israel

This not-so-subtle modern day version of the deicide is transparent classical anti-Semitism in the guise of criticism of Israel.  The posters are a product of The Palestinian Museum, which announced that at the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Supreme Presidential Committee for Church Affairs, it had prepared special billboards to decorate Manger Square which “combine recent media photographs of the Palestinian landscape and its people with Western baroque paintings of biblical scenes.”

The posters, some of which depict Jesus suffering at the hands of Israeli soldiers, will highlight “the tension between the popular image of the Holy Land and Palestine’s ongoing history of suffering under occupation and oppression,”  according to the Museum.

Palestinian efforts to present themselves as the direct descendants of Jesus are nothing new.  Nor is the manipulative and anti-Semitic comparison of Palestinian suffering at the hands of Jews just as they claim Jews were responsible for suffering and death of Jesus.

The message carefully chosen by an official Palestinian body to publicly welcome Pope Francis demonstrates how deeply intermingled anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes are in the Palestinian public sphere.

At the weekly meeting of Israel’s cabinet, Prime Minister Netanyahu decried Palestinian incitement, citing the ADL Global 100 Survey findings about the high level of anti-Semitic attitudes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While the PA regularly complains that incitement is an Israeli-manufactured excuse, there is no denying that extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic messaging appears routinely in official Palestinian publications and institutions.

Earlier this week, the May 21st edition of the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, featured an op-ed by one of its frequent writers, Yahya Rabah, entitled “No One Believes Shylock,” featuring the denial of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, comparisons of Israel to the Nazis and other outrages.   Rabah writes:

“… Israel lives on a broad and extensive system of laws from the British Mandate, on illusionary Torah maps, as well as on hallucinations from the Babylonian captivity or from the Roman, the existence of neither has no single evidence. (It also lives) on practices borrowed from the Nazis, currently imitated by the Israelis against the Palestinian people, as clearly established by a number of intellectuals, authors and historians in Israel these days.”

The issue of Palestinian incitement, and the PA’s chronic failure to prepare the Palestinian public for peace with Israel was on ongoing concern cited by Israeli officials during the recent cycle of US-brokered peace negotiations.

And with these egregious examples appearing almost-daily, it is certain to continue to alarm all those committed to true Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

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May 22, 2014

Coverage Of The ADL Global 100 Poll In The Arab Media

The newly released ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism yielded a large amount of data regarding disturbingly high levels of anti-Semitic attitudes across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The highest numbers in MENA were found in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at 93%, while Iran ranked lowest, with 56% of the population holding anti-Semitic attitudes.adl-global100

The ADL survey generated widespread coverage in local and regional Arabic language press, both in print and online news items and opinion pieces. The focus was almost entirely on the poll’s MENA results, and while most articles only reported the factual data, a small number did include criticism of the poll’s findings. 

The following are examples of the Arab media’s coverage of the poll:

Conflating Israelis with Jews:

Referring to the poll as indicative of attitudes towards “Israelis” rather than “Jews,” the following headline appeared on the Egyptian news website Vetogate: “Public Opinion Poll: 26% of the World’s Population Hate Israel.”

Arab scholars present their own analyses:

  1. Professor Ali S. Asani of Harvard University was quoted in the Jordanian Al-Arab al-Yawm saying that the results demonstrating high levels of anti-Semitism among Arabs and low levels among Western Europeans represent a historic role reversal. Europe was traditionally a hostile place for Jews, while Arab and Muslim countries were generally considered secure.
  2. Hussein Ibish, a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine based in Washington, DC, argued that the West Bank and Gaza results were skewed due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was quoted in an article published the Dubai-based Al-Arabiyawebsite: “The worst results are among the Palestinians. They answered the questions related to the Jewish power and control through (the prism of) their experience of occupation. This is, for example, different from asking the American public such questions. The Palestinians don’t see the Jews only as an ethnic or religious group, but see them through their experience with the occupation army.”

Identifying ADL as an Israeli organization:

Instead of referring to ADL as a Jewish-American organization, a small number of Arabic news outlets, including the Yemenite Nashwan newspaper, stated that the poll was conducted by an Israeli organization.

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