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August 5, 2015 0

Egypt’s New Interest in its Jewish Past

There has been much dis­cus­sion about  the recent Egypt­ian TV drama The Jew­ish Quar­ter, which depicts the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in Egypt in the 1940s through a love story between a Jew­ish woman and a Mus­lim Egypt­ian army officer.

ADL noted that despite some expec­ta­tions that it would depart from the usual anti-Semitic canards typ­i­cally found in Ramadan-period pro­duc­tions, The Jew­ish Quar­ter divides Egypt­ian Jews into two cat­e­gories:  “good” Jews and “bad” Jew.  The good Jews are loyal to Egypt and sup­port its war against Israel while Zion­ist Jews, are depicted as wicked, liars, evil and try­ing to betray Egypt.

At the same time, as flawed as The Jew­ish Quar­ter is, it appears to reflect a new inter­est among Egyp­tians in its once-thriving Jew­ish community.

Exam­ples include, the 2012 Egyptian-made film, Jews of Egypt , which doc­u­mented the  his­tory of the com­mu­nity and a num­ber of recent arti­cles which have exam­ined the Jews’ his­tor­i­cal role in the country’s success.

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“No one can deny the role played by Egypt’s Jews through­out its his­tory, a role con­sid­ered vital and impor­tant”, noted one arti­cle pub­lished in Egypt’s Al-Wafd news­pa­per (July 21), adding that “They’ve always been part of Egypt­ian cul­tural and social fab­ric”. Other news­pa­pers go even fur­ther in their superla­tives as they invoke promi­nent Egyptian-Jewish fig­ures from the past, such as leg­endary singer Layla Murad (who later con­verted to Islam and was out­spo­ken in her crit­i­cism of Israel),  a fea­ture about whom was recently pub­lished in the country’s Al-Yawm As-Sabi news­pa­per (July 13): “She is the voice of love in her days, in ours and in every day”, says the arti­cle. “She is capa­ble of bestow­ing upon you pos­i­tive energy through which to face life’s futil­ity; capa­ble of mak­ing you sense the beauty of life; and capa­ble of cre­at­ing a new heart between your ribs, one that will know a new mean­ing of love and life.”

Why is there now this renewed inter­est in Egypt’s Jew­ish com­mu­nity of seven decades ago?  An arti­cle pub­lished (July 18) about The Jew­ish Quar­ter TV series in Egypt’s most widely cir­cu­lated daily – Al-Ahram – sug­gests one pos­si­ble answer, which is that it’s not about the Jews in and of them­selves. Dr. Hala Mustafa writes, “Nat­u­rally, this isn’t a his­to­ri­og­ra­phy of Jew­ish pres­ence in Egypt, but rather a demon­stra­tion of one fea­ture of Egypt­ian cul­tural lib­eral legacy. It is char­ac­ter­ized by diver­sity, wealth and plu­ral­ism in their fullest sense and exceeds the imme­di­ate polit­i­cal con­text. Jews were only part of a big­ger sys­tem which embraced cit­i­zens of non-Egyptian ori­gins and for­eign emi­grants, such as Greeks, Ital­ians, Arme­ni­ans, French and oth­ers. This nat­u­rally led to a mix­ture of West­ern and Ori­en­tal cul­tures, even­tu­ally pro­duc­ing a dis­tinct tol­er­ant Egypt­ian culture.”

It seems that in the midst of Egypt’s tremen­dous insta­bil­ity, with the country’s lead­er­ship mov­ing from sec­u­lar to Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and back again to a sec­u­lar regime; fight­ing Islamic ter­ror in Sinai; strug­gling over the country’s very ethos, the Egypt of the 1940’s sim­ply rep­re­sents a more lib­eral and tol­er­ant coun­try that some long for in these times of reli­gious extrem­ism and Islamic polit­i­cal awakening.

Whether this new inter­est will endure, much less trans­lates to a new approach to Jews and the Jew­ish State, remains to be seen.

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November 19, 2014 12

Axe Imagery Proliferates Following Synagogue Attack In Jerusalem

Within min­utes of yesterday’s bru­tal ter­ror attack that killed five peo­ple in a Jerusalem syn­a­gogue, images and car­toons glo­ri­fy­ing the attack began cir­cu­lat­ing online.jerusalem-synagogue-axe-hatchet-al-aqsa

The speed with which images glo­ri­fy­ing the killing of Jews with axes and hatch­ets – which the two ter­ror­ists used in their attack – were released demon­strates the ease in which sup­port­ers of such bru­tal attacks can express their sup­port online.

Just last week, a sim­i­lar social media cam­paign glo­ri­fy­ing ter­ror attacks by run­ning over Israelis with cars was launched.

The Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine, claimed respon­si­bil­ity for the ter­ror­ist attack in Jerusalem and cel­e­brated the oper­a­tion by pro­mot­ing the axe as a sym­bol for “Resis­tance” via its var­i­ous social media plat­forms. (Israeli law enforce­ment say they are inves­ti­gat­ing the claim but pre­lim­i­nary evi­dence indi­cates that the per­pe­tra­tors were act­ing alone.)  

The group’s Face­book page fea­tured an image of the two ter­ror­ists who com­mit­ted the attack, Ghas­san and Uday Abu Jamal, with an axe and a mes­sage read­ing, “Oh Zion­ists, in all the places and by all means, we will har­vest your souls.” Another image posted on the group’s Face­book page shows a masked man car­ry­ing an axe and dis­trib­ut­ing can­dies to cel­e­brate the operation.jerusalem-synagogue-axe-hatchet-ghassan-abu-jamal

The group also posted a state­ment on the Face­book page soon after the oper­a­tion, greet­ing the “Heroic oper­a­tion exe­cuted by the two mar­tyrs Ghas­san and Uday Abu Jamal,” and call­ing to “esca­late con­fronta­tions against the occu­piers and the settlers.”

On the group’s Twit­ter page, a post describes the use of axes in the oper­a­tion as “cre­ativ­ity in the forms of resistance.”

Other groups have cir­cu­lated images and car­toons cel­e­brat­ing the use of an axe to attack Jews, includ­ing Ajnad News, a West Bank based news orga­ni­za­tion. A car­toon depict­ing a man with a knife and hatchet in a syn­a­gogue as Jews around him lie in pools of blood or flee out the door, was posted at to Ajnad’s Twit­ter account at 7:19am (Jerusalem time) – only min­utes after the attack­ers had entered the syn­a­gogue at about 7:00am.jerusalem-synagogue-axe-hatchet-ajnad

Another car­toon shows an image of a hatchet on a car wind­shield as the car dri­ves towards Jerusalem. And a graphic presents pic­tures of Ortho­dox Jews next to image of a mov­ing car wheel, an axe and a gun, and advises read­ers to learn about news from the Ajnad sub­scriber ser­vice on their phones.

Other images cir­cu­lat­ing on social media include an image of a fright­ened Ortho­dox Jew with a Star of David on his hat sur­rounded by knives, axes, cars and guns.

The Ara­bic lan­guage jerusalem-synagogue-axe-hatchet-qassam-brigadesTwit­ter account for the Qas­sam Brigades, Hamas’s mil­i­tary wing, posted images of the after­math of the account and pic­tures of the vic­tims and of the per­pe­tra­tors, as well as a graphic depict­ing a bloody cleaver and an Israeli emer­gency med­ical respon­der in front of a fiery back­ground. All of the images on the Hamas Twit­ter feed have been posted mul­ti­ple times in other loca­tions as well.

Sup­port­ers of other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Jab­hat al Nusra, the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Syria, have posted images sup­port­ing the attack as well. The major­ity of these are not car­toons but rather images of the after­math of the attack – per­haps a reflec­tion of the graphic con­tent reg­u­larly shared by those ter­ror­ist groups.

Other images:

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November 10, 2014 2

Social Media Campaign Glorifies & Encourages Car Terror Against Israelis

Update — 11/19/14: ADL has con­tacted Face­book about this issue, and they have been responsive.

In the past two weeks, “run over” car attacks by Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists have resulted in the death and injury of sev­eral Israeli civil­ians. These ter­ror­ist attacks have inspired a social media cam­paign prais­ing them as a form of resis­tance, encour­ag­ing oth­ers to per­pe­trate sim­i­lar attacks and fea­tur­ing vio­lent expres­sions of anti-Semitism.

The cam­paign uses the Ara­bic term “Daes” [Run-over], which is a play on the Ara­bic word “Daesh” [ISIS]. Cur­rently, there are approx­i­mately 90 Face­book pages ded­i­cated to this abhor­rent cam­paign, some with thou­sands of followers.

Some of the posts on these pages describe the “run-overs” as part of a new rev­o­lu­tion; a form of “car Intifada.”A poem posted on Novem­ber 5 on one of the Face­book pages reads, “When the car becomes a weapon…and kills a mur­derer Zion­ist… this means the rev­o­lu­tion is com­ing.” Some pages include pic­tures of ter­ror­ist after they ran over Israelis and were killed by author­i­ties, along with prayers ask­ing for the “mar­tyr” to “ascend to the heav­enly paradise.”

Many of the com­ments found on these pages describe “run-over” oper­a­tions as a response to Israel’s alleged attack on Jerusalem. For exam­ple, one image depicts a car run­ning over Israeli sol­diers with a cap­tion read­ing, “run­ning over for the sake of Jerusalem.”

Other Face­book pages include anti-Semitic posts depict­ing reli­gious Jews with hooked noses run­ning away from vehi­cles attempt­ing to run-over them.

The cam­paign even has its own theme song and video, called “Run-over this set­tler,” which has been shared on many of the Face­book pages. The song, first uploaded to YouTube on Novem­ber 6, is sung by a duo call­ing upon Pales­tini­ans to run over their enemy: “Run over, sab­o­tage, destroy, explode and don’t let the Zion­ist reconstruct…oh Aqsa we are your guards.”

The song also includes the names of some of the ter­ror­ists who car­ried out “run-over” attacks, call­ing on their moth­ers to express hap­pi­ness because their sons are now mar­tyrs in heaven. It also calls upon oth­ers to “ter­rify [Israelis] with red blood… Strengthen your heart and be care­ful not to have mercy over them.”

The cam­paign is start­ing to spread on Twit­ter as well; the Ara­bic hash­tag “Daes” has attracted numer­ous posts cel­e­brat­ing ter­ror­ism. For exam­ple, one Tweet reads, “Noth­ing is more beau­ti­ful than a run-over, lest stab­bing.” Another Tweet fea­tures Ibrahim Akkawi, a dri­ver killed by Israeli forces after car­ry­ing out a “run-over” attack in Jerusalem last week. A com­ment on Akkawi’s pic­ture reads, “Start­ing with tonight, you will run-over them with nightmares.”

The cam­paign is the lat­est exam­ple of how social media is used to incite and glo­rify terrorism.

 

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Pro­file pic­ture on sev­eral Face­book pages read­ing, “Cars intifada ‘Daes’”

 

An anti-Semitic car­toon shared on sev­eral “Daes” Face­book pages

 

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Face­book pro­file pic­ture depict­ing iconic Dome of the Rock as a car for attacks

 

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An image cir­cu­lated on Face­book pro­mot­ing vehic­u­lar violence

 

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Anti-Semitic car­toon pro­mot­ing recent car attacks in Jerusalem with hash­tag “Daes”

 

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Anti-Semitic car­toon fea­tured on a Face­book page with Ara­bic term for “To run over”

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