ADL: Egypt's Leaders Have a Blind Spot for Anti-Semitism

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“Business as Usual” Attitude Could Hamper Egypt’s Regional Leadership Role

Anti-Defamation League
President Mubarak’s government continues to engage in business as usual when it comes to blatant expressions of anti-Semitism in the media, which seep into Egyptian society.

At a time when the United States is looking to Egypt to play a critical role in bringing about a new era of reconciliation and partnership between the Muslim world and the West, an attitude of “business as usual” persists among Egyptian leaders toward the incessant drumbeat of anti-Semitism in the media and society, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

In a report on Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian Media , issued today, the League cites a “culture of permissiveness” that enables anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment to flourish in Egyptian society “without a single word of condemnation or criticism from political or civic leaders.”

The ADL report was delivered last week to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and copies are being shared on Capitol Hill with members of the Obama administration and key congressional leaders.

“President Mubarak’s government continues to engage in business as usual when it comes to blatant expressions of anti-Semitism in the media, which seep into Egyptian society,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “These alarming manifestations of anti-Jewish attitudes undermine the attempts by the U.S. administration to deliver on the promise of better relations between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds in President Obama’s Cairo address, and present a major obstacle to his vision of truly normalized relations between Israel and Egypt, and Israel and the other Arab countries.”

Daily newspapers and television shows in Egypt routinely propagate age-old anti-Semitic themes, with Jews portrayed as stooped, hook-nosed and money hungry, fighting for world domination. These and other manifestations of anti-Jewish attitudes show the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism in Egyptian society:

  •     Offensive editorial cartoons depicting Jews as controlling international financial systems and the American government routinely appear in the Egyptian press.
  •     Claims of Jewish exploitation of the Holocaust; articles and statements diminishing the history of the Holocaust; and comparisons of Israeli leaders and others to Nazis are common in the media.
  •     These expressions lead to overt acts of anti-Jewish discrimination in society, such as the Egyptian government’s attempt in October to exclude Israeli doctors and scientists from an international conference on breast cancer; and the anti-Semitic diatribe delivered by Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni following his loss of the UNESCO chairmanship to a Bulgarian diplomat in September.

In a letter to President Mubarak accompanying its report, ADL said anti-Semitic expressions and actions in Egypt are rarely, if ever met with public condemnation or censure, despite repeated attempts by Jewish community leaders and Israeli officials to raise awareness of the problem with his government over the last decade.

“On numerous occasions, ADL officials have met with you and members of your government to urge Egypt’s leadership to speak out against such anti-Semitic expressions and to make clear that the demonization of Jews is unacceptable in Egyptian society,” the League wrote to Mr. Mubarak. “To our disappointment, such condemnations have been rare, and all too often we have heard representatives of your government justify these examples of hate as understandable expressions of anger toward Jews.”

The ADL report highlights 58 editorial cartoons from mainstream Egyptian newspapers -- including the mass circulation dailies Al-Ahram, Al-Gumhuriyya and Akhbar Al-Yawm -- that portray Jews and Israelis using vicious anti-Semitic stereotypes and motifs, or imply Jewish control of the U.S. government and world leaders.

The report also includes excerpts from articles in the Egyptian press claiming, among other themes, that Iraqi and Palestinian girls “are being really and truly raped day and night by the Americans and the Israelis;” that Israel is polluting Palestinian drinking water with “microbes, dirt and atomic garbage;” and that “Jews control the American Media.”

The full report is available for download at (2.5 MB).

The Anti-Defamation League , founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

Myrna Shinbaum (212) 885-7747
Todd Gutnick (212) 885-7755

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