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August 5, 2015

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.

the jewish quarter egypt

“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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January 15, 2015

Anti-Semitic Conspiracies Continue In Aftermath Of Paris Attacks

Conspiracy theories blaming Jews and Israel for the terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris continue to surface in the U.S. and abroad.

In addition to previously reported examples, recent instances of American anti-Semites exploiting the tragedy to promote hatred for Jews include:

Brandon Martinez's on Press TV

Press TV’s reporting on the attacks

  • Paul Craig Roberts, an anti-Semitic syndicated columnist, wrote an article on his personal website claiming that there are suspicions “that the French shootings are a false flag operation.” Roberts identified several reasons for this, including “to stifle the growing European sympathy for the Palestinians and to realign Europe with Israel.”
  • On Press TV, Iran’s English-language satel­lite news net­work, in a January 13 article titled “Analyst wonders whether Cahrlie [sic] Hebdo massacre was staged,” Brandon Martinez blamed “Zionists” for a number of the world’s evils. For example, Martinez wrote that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are “all outgrowths of the same poisonous American-Zionist imperial tree.”
  • On January 12, on Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, Senior Editor Gordon Duff published an article titled “Did Netanyahu Give France Their 9/11?” In the article, he describes the attacks as a “comic opera of carelessly staged false flag terrorism” carried out by “the Mossad and the criminal banks, part of the pro-Israeli ISIS organization.”

Internationally, similar conspiracy theories have been published in some media outlets and been promoted by various individuals:

Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek

Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek blaming Mossad for the attacks

  • Turkey: According to a report from Anadolu News Agency circulating in the Turkish media, Ankara’s Mayor, Melih Gokcek accused Israel of being behind the Paris attacks. He made his statement during a conference by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on January 13. He claimed Israel was annoyed with the lower house of the French Parliament for voting for the recognition of a Palestinian state and with France’s vote in favor of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for the same recognition. “Israel certainly doesn’t want this sentiment to expand in Europe. That is why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents. Mossad inflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents,” Gokcek said.
  • Egypt: A foreign affairs analyst at Al Wafd daily newspaper was cited in a report by the paper on January 12 as stating: “The Israeli Mossad is behind the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo French newspaper.” He added, “The Mossad planned the operation, and provided the attackers with weapons, and most likely the planning of the operation was done in the same Jewish [grocery] store which the attackers went to later.”
  • Egypt: Mohammed Tewfik, a journalist and former member of the militant al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, accused the Mossad of being involved in the Charlie Hebdo attacks. His accusations were included in a statement published by the Egypt-based Albawabh news website, on January 12. Tewfik stated, “The fast reaction by Israel to the attack, and Netanyahu’s trip to France, his request for France’s Jews to immigrate to Israel, and his call to  establish a new international coalition against Islamic terrorism, are likely [indications] of a Mossad involvement in this crime and an attempt to stick it to the Muslims.”

Anti-Semites have pro­moted such absurd the­o­ries to explain events in Syria, the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, the Sandy Hook Mas­sacre, and the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. In the Mid­dle East, there are those that claim that ISIS and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood have secret alliances with the Jews or that the Jews cre­ated such ter­ror­ist groups for nefar­i­ous purposes.

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January 9, 2015

Anti-Semitic Conspiracies Predictably Surface After Paris Attacks

Update –January, 15, 2015: For more examples, see also: Anti-Semitic Conspiracies Continue In Aftermath Of Paris Attacks

In the aftermath of the terror attack in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo office, conspiracy theories blaming Jews and Israel for the attack immediately surfaced in the U.S and abroad.

Image accompanying Kevin Barrett's Veterans Today article

Image accompanying Kevin Barrett’s Veterans Today article

The subsequent hostage situation at a Kosher supermarket in Paris, where at least four hostages were killed, will undoubtedly feed into the conspiracy theories as they continue to spread, as they often do after a terrible tragedy.

In the U.S., anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, who never miss an opportunity to exploit tragedies to promote their anti-Jewish hatred, and two anti-Israel activists blamed Jews or Israel for the attacks:

  • Mark Glenn, a virulently anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, wrote on his blog The Ugly Truth that “The massacre in Paris as [sic] yet another False Flag event aimed at re-igniting and re-invigorating Judea’s declared war against Islam.” The statement is accompanied by an image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the caption “…It will generate immediate sympathy for Israel.”
  • On Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, Gilad Atz­mon, an Israeli-born anti-Semite based in London, claimed that France somehow deserved these attacks due to actions he claims were pushed for by “the Jewish lobby group CRIF.” He also chastises France for “following the whims of The Lobby.” He posited, “It is quite probably that this was another false flag operation. Who could be behind it? Use your imagination…”
  • Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV, wrote an article in Veterans Today titled “Paris ‘Charlie Hebdo Attack’: Another Zionist False Flag?” In the article Barrett describes the attack as Zionist “orchestrated” retribution for French foreign policy on Israel and the Palestinians. Barrett also implies that Israel is behind “Malaysian planes…falling out of the sky” as punishment for Malaysian foreign policy on Israel, and that the 2011 attacks in Norway that killed 77 people were perpetrated by Israel against Norway’s Labor Party for its policies on Israel.
  • Greta Berlin and Mary Hughes-Thompson, anti-Israel activists who co-founded the Free Gaza Move­ment (FGM), have also alleged Israel is behind the attack. Greta Berlin wrote on Facebook that “MOSSAD just hit the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in a clumsy false flag designed to damage the accord between Palestine and France…Here’s hoping the French police will be able to tell a well executed hit by a well trained Israeli intelligence service and not assume the Muslims would be likely to attack France when France is their freind [sic.] Israel did tell France there would be grave consequences if they voted with Palestine. A four year old could see who is responsible for this terrible attack.” Mary Hughes-Thompson posted on Twitter that “#Hebdo killings indefensible. Can’t help thinking #JSIL Mossad false flag though….” JSIL is the acronym for “Jewish State in the Levant,” a term being used by anti-Israel activists to equate Israel with ISIS.

Internationally, such conspiracy theories have entered into more mainstream media and been promoted by various individuals:

  • India: Mother Jones reported that International Business Times India published an article that posited that the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence service, was to blame. “Although there is no way to verify the claims that Mossad was involved, the backdrop in which the attack took place seems to indicate that they might be involved, many conspiracy theorists have noted. Mossad is responsible for intelligence collection and has undertaken many covert operations for Israel in Europe that aim to further their Jewish cause.” The article has since been replaced with an editor’s note stating that the article alleging this link “should never have been published.”
  • Tunisia: Tunisia Times posted an article on January 9 on its website titled “American Resources: The Mossad is behind Charlie Hebdo operation in France” According to the report, “Eventually, the Mossad hired Muslims from Arabic origins to carry the attack to increase hostility towards Muslims worldwide.”

    charlie-hebdo-al-dostor-egypt

    Image from article in Egypt’s Al Dostor newspaper describing the Mossad as carrying out the attack.

  • Egypt: Cairo-based daily newspaper, Al Dostor, published a report on its website yesterday titled “Surprise… Accusing the Mossad of carrying out the operation against the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.” According to the newspaper, the Berlin-based Free Gaza movement accused the Mossad of executing the attack which targeted the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and not any other terrorist group as it was reported.
  • Jordan: Rawafed News website published an article by Assad Al Azony on January 8 titled” The tragedy of satirical Charlie Hebdo… Search for Jews and the extreme French right wing [to be behind it]. According to the article, “One must be certain that Jews and the French extreme right wing executed this terrorist attack.”
  • Lebanon: Middle East Panorama Media and News Agency published an article today on its website by Ahmed Al Sharqawy titled “Charlie Hebdo… Oh Arabs, be aware of the Zionist trap.” Al Sharqawy claimed in his article that a pro-Palestinian Jewish friend who lives in France contacted him in the past warning that the same newspaper is suffering from a financial crisis and that “Zionist Jews advised the newspaper to fabricate a barbaric attack against the freedom of expression to increase its sales.”
  • Turkey: Coordinator  of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organization International Rabia Platform, Turkish journalist Cihangir İşbilir, posted a comment on his Twitter account on January 7, stating “Alternative scenario: France angered Israel, because it would support Palestine in the UN security Council. Mossad committed the terrorist attack.
  • West Bank: Mazin Qumsiyeh, a conspiratorial anti-Israel activist who has a history of making anti-Semitic statements, sent an e-mail on January 9 to his listserv suggesting that the attacks in France may have been perpetrated by a state intelligence service. He stated, “Whether this was yet another false flag operation or by rogue terrorists not left alive to be questioned, Zionists are milking it to the best of their (very large) media abilities.”

Anti-Semites have promoted such absurd theories to explain events in Syria, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook Massacre, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the Middle East, there are those that claim that ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood have secret alliances with the Jews or that the Jews created such terrorist groups for nefarious purposes.

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