Reuters/Khaled Al Hariri
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s recent comments claiming that his slur of Jews and Zionists was a manipulation by the “Jewish-controlled Western media” did not happen in a cultural vacuum. Anti-Semitism in the Middle East is not an extremist pursuit. It is alive, well and mainstream. In 2008, a Pew Research Center survey found that 95 percent of Egyptians, 96 percent of Jordanians and 97 percent of Lebanese had negative views of Jews. And many people in the Middle East still believe that the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. were part of a Jewish conspiracy.
In November 2005, Syrian television broadcast a speech by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke while he was visiting the country. Duke’s website features some choice blog posts in which he compares the idea of Judeo-Christianity to Satanic-Christianity, and says that “Jewish supremacy, which is grounded in Jewish psychology and might very well have a genetic basis, is steadily becoming more extreme as a result of continued inbreeding among Jews.”
In his speech in Syria, Duke said, “Around the world and in America, it is only the Zionists who want war rather than peace. It hurts my heart to tell you that part of my country is occupied by Zionists, just as part of your country, the Golan Heights, is occupied by Zionists.” The speech was greeted with loud cheers from the assembled crowd at a rally.
On Nov. 30, 2012, a Tunisian imam named Sheikh Ahmad al-Suhayli said on TV that God wanted to destroy the “sprinkling of Jews” in Tunisia, “and “is sterilizing the wombs of Jewish women.” He later claimed the statements had been “misinterpreted,” when the Jewish community in Tunisia (population about 1,000, all living on the island of Djerba) complained.
On Thursday, an Egyptian actor assaulted presenters on a candid-camera- type show when told he was being interviewed for “Israeli channel 2,” and said, “I hate the Jews to death,” Jerusalem Post reported. Another actress, confronted by the same presenters, said, “In that country [Israel] they are all liars,” she said. “They keep whining all the time about the Holocaust, or whatever it’s called. … Allah did not curse the worm and moth as much as he cursed the Jews.”
If that’s not enough, you’ll easily be able to find in Cairo bookstores a copy of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the notorious hoax book published in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, which details a supposed plan by the Jews for world domination. The book was republished, widely distributed, and passed off as fact by notable anti-Semites such as Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford.
With Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday, Jan. 27, here are five of the more outlandish and offensive assertions that Middle Eastern and Arab leaders have made about Jews and Israel.
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.