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July 21, 2016

Israeli Flags Burned in Cairo in Protest of Foreign Minister’s Israel Visit

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri’s July 10th visit to Israel and meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu was the first such trip in nine years.   In Israel, Shukri’s visit was greeted as reflective of warming relations between Jerusalem and Cairo who signed a peace agreement in 1979.   For some in Egypt, the visit sparked protest against this act of normalization.

According to reports in Arab media, Egyptian journalists burned Israeli flags on Wednesday (July 13) on the footsteps of the Syndicate of Journalists building in Cairo, shouting anti-Israel slogans. A video of the demonstration posted on YouTube by Egypt’s Al-Masrawi newspaper shows a group of protesters standing around an Israeli flag, holding additional Israeli flags marked with an X. The person in the middle is saying “We came today to burn this despicable flag, the flag of the apes and pigs. We’ll also burn the pictures of the one called “the Prime Minister of the Zionists” and that of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri”. The video goes on to show them shouting together “We’ve been repeating it generation after generation – we’ll treat you as enemy, Israel.”

From Twitter

From Twitter

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March 2, 2016

Recent Controversies in Egypt Illustrate Anti-Israel Sentiment Still Prevalent

Recent controversies in Egypt illustrate the prevalence of anti-Israel sentiment in a country which has had a peace agreement with Israel since 1979.

The latest incident involved a dinner invitation by Egyptian Parliamentarian Tawfiq Okasha to Israeli Ambassador Haim Koren. Okasha, a TV personality who has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks on his show, was subsequently ousted from Egypt’s Parliament after being accused of engaging in normalization efforts towards Israel. He was also physically attacked byanother Parliamentarian, Kamal Ahmad, who hurled his shoe at Okasha in protest.In a video, Ahmad explained that his action was intended not only toward Okasha, but also toward the Knesset and the “Zionist Entity.” The Al-Yawm As-Sabi news site hosts a video game where players can use a shoe to hit Okasha across the face. At the top of the screen appears the title “Congratulations, Okasha”, and he is depicted with a black eye in the backdrop of the Israeli flag.

MP Tawfik Okasha (right) hosts Israeli ambassador Haim Koren.

MP Tawfik Okasha (right) hosts Israeli ambassador Haim Koren.

Another example of anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt occurred earlier this month when the Cairo International Book Fair featured an Israeli book, Arabian Nights.Com, which was written by Israel Army Radio’s Arab affairs analyst Jackie Hougie. Its inclusion resulted in Parliamentarian Muhammad Al-Masud demanding that Egypt’s Culture Minister launch an investigation into the decision to sell the book at the fair.

And a few weeks prior to that, Egyptian authorities ordered the canceling of a screening of Israeli film The Band’s Visit. The film, from 2007, tells the story of an Egyptian band arriving in Israel, and deals with the issue of coexistence between Israelis and Egyptians. When the issue became public, Mohammed Munir, the Governor of the Cairo District, ordered that the screening be canceled, and announced an investigation to determine which official had initially approved the film screening.

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January 22, 2016

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Still…..A Jew

Saud Al Shureem anti-semitic Tweet

Saud al-Shuraim’s anti-Semitic tweet about the Jewish-Iranian alliance

Over the past month, escalating tension in the Middle East between Iran and the Arab Gulf States helped fuel a resurgence of anti-Semitic statements and conspiracy theories about a supposed link between Israel and Jews to Iran.

Angered by Iran’s increasing influence in the region, prominent Arab figures including politicians, religious leaders and journalists have accused Jews and Israel of secretly supporting Iran and Shi’a Muslims in their war against the Sunni Muslim world.

Just last week, prominent Saudi scholar, Saud al-Shuraim, an Imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca wrote the following statement on his Twitter account: “It is no wonder the Safavids [Iranians] ally with Jews and Christians against Muslims because history testifies that this is the case. What is strange are the minds which took too long to understand this fact.”

Some went as far as accusing “the Jews” of orchestrating Iran’s war against the Sunni Muslim world. Jordanian online news agency Ammon News published an article on January 19, titled “Iran started its holy war on the Sunnis with the blessing of the Jews.”

The online publication, Al Khaleej Affairs, which specializes in Arab Gulf States’ Affairs, interviewed Iraqi Sunni activist Falih Al Shibly on January 21 to talk about the Iranian involvement in Iraq. In the interview Al Shibly claimed, “Unfortunately, there is ignorance in the region about the Jewish supported Persian plot.” He added that “This plot is against all Arab countries from the Arabian West to the ‘Arabian’ Gulf.”

Other anti-Semitic accusations included conspiracy theories that the Jewish lobby in the U.S. is responsible for driving America’s policy in Iran’s best interests. Dubai Police Chief, Dahi Khalfan, whose bizarre statements in the past included accusing the Jews of being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, claimed on January 18 that President Obama is of Shi’a roots and “the sons of Zion” [the Jews] helped him  reach presidency to “bring Iran and America closer.” Khalfan’s statements were widely circulated in the Arab world.

Such a claim about Jewish support for Iran was the subject of several tweets by former Manager of the Dubai Government Media Office, Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi, on January 11. He claimed that Jews revere Iran because it is considered a “holy” country in Judaism. He wrote “Jews revere Iran more than ‘Palestine.’”

The terrorist organization ISIS is capitalizing on this anti-Semitic trend as well. The featured article in their most recent English-language magazine Dabiq issue included a 14-page screed linking Jews and Shi’as. The back cover of the magazine also featured a full page image of Jews praying in a synagogue with a clear reference to the Jews of Isfahan in Iran.

This anti-Semitic rhetoric is more than just a delusional perspective. It is a tool that has been used time and again to galvanize Arab public opinion.

These conspiracy theories also fail to recognize both the very real threat Iran represents to the Jewish state and the centrality of anti-Semitic propaganda in the ideology embraced by Iran’s ruling regime. It is ironic that such accusations emerge while Iran is organizing  an international cartoon contest–on the Holocaust.

Tension between Iran and the Arab world has a long history, but it has escalated notably over the past few months as a result of the Iran nuclear agreement and growing concern among Arab Gulf States about Iran’s expanding regional influence and its involvement in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Arab world. Both sides have used the media to propagate anti-Semitic accusations against the other through the lens of their own agendas. It seems that  Shi’as  and Sunnis can agree on one thing: blaming the Jews for their problems.

In the past, ADL documented a number of similar conspiracy theories in the Arab world including that ISIS has Jewish roots and that Israel and Jews are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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