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From: "B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission" 
Subject: ADC Special Report: Hate Propaganda in the Arab Media (attached)
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 11:44:05 +1100
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Please find below the November 2002 text-only edition of ADC Special Report.
To receive this publication as a PDF attachment, please email, with the words "PDF Version" in the subject header.

A periodic publication of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission Inc.
No.6, November 2002

Paul Gardner*

Teenagers are blown to bloody pieces in Jerusalem while eating a pizza.  A
huge bomb is dropped on a house to kill a Palestinian terrorist leader.  The
US threatens war against Iraq if its demands for unfettered weapons
inspections are not met.  Israeli forces capture and defuse a car bomb on
its way to an Israeli city, as large as the bomb that killed hundreds in
Oklahoma. These are the awful Middle East news items that dominate the pages
of our mainstream media.  It's understandable: bad news is good news for
newspaper publishers.  Extreme violence fascinates the public and sells
newspapers.  We can read ghastly news and all feel slightly safer because
it's happening somewhere else.

In our fascination with the violence, however, we may tend to overlook some
of the insidious processes that help provoke it and fuel it.  A case in
point is the way in which the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians
is presented in the Arab media. Despite the 1977 Egyptian/Israeli peace
agreement, despite the 1993 peace agreement in Oslo, despite the further
comprehensive peace offer made by former Israeli PM Barak and rejected by
Yasser Arafat at Camp David two years ago, despite the second and more
murderous intifada instigated by Palestinian terrorist groups, the media in
Arab countries continually portray Israel as the aggressor and the
Palestinians as victims.

If this portrayal of the conflict were merely couched in the language of
normal political reporting, it might make unpleasant reading for Israelis
and their supporters, but it would at least be understandable and perhaps
even tolerable.  But it isn't being written that way at all.  Instead, Arab
publications frequently draw upon every conceivable antisemitic stereotype.
The obvious purpose is not to engage in civilised political debate, but to
stir up irrational hatred towards Israel and Jews.  One can find antisemitic
material in the media of most Arab countries.  Not just in extremist states
such as Syria  - which one might expect - but in so-called moderate states
like Egypt, officially at peace with Israel.  Since all Arab countries are
dictatorships or ruled by autocratic kings, since all the media in those
countries are government controlled, the hate campaign clearly has the
support of the political elites.

Not a single voice is raised in the media against the hate campaign.  No
doubt there are people who value tolerance, fairness and truth in Arab
countries, but they have no chance of having their voice heard in the
mainstream Arab media.  It is easy to understand why this is so. Government
control ensures compliance and opposing voices are suppressed.  Honest
journalists are threatened if they fail to conform to propaganda
requirements.  A recent Associated Press report by Ibrahim Barzak (26/8/02)
conveys a sense of how Arab journalists are forced to toe the line.  He
notes how the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate criticised the use of
children in military activities - at first sight an entirely proper, moral
viewpoint - but then also ruled that if children were to be used in this
way, it was "absolutely forbidden" to take photographs of them doing so.
Why?  Simple: such pictures, said Tawfik Abu Khousa, deputy chairman of the
syndicate, harmed the image of the Palestinian people and the credibility of
Palestinian journalists. "We have decided to forbid taking any footage of
armed children, because we consider that as a clear violation of the rights
of children and for negative effects these pictures have on the Palestinian
people," he said. The syndicate's statement said footage of armed children
served "the interests of Israel and its propaganda against the Palestinian

Note the logic here: it's not the actual use of armed children that is
detestable, the real problem is the negative image that results.  As for the
"credibility" of the journalists, one would have thought that publishing the
truth normally enhances a journalist's credibility.  At least, that's the
way it works in democratic countries.  Barzak reports that Palestinian
photographers have told of attempts by Palestinian officials and militias to
keep them from taking pictures considered unfavourable, sometimes using
threats and coercion. One suspects, therefore, that "credibility" should be
read as "ability to continue breathing".

The hate campaign in the Arab media usually draws upon five common
antisemitic themes.  Some are medieval, while others draw on distorted
versions of twentieth century history.

The deicide charge.  All mainstream Christian churches have long rejected
the ancient and false accusation that Jews were responsible for the death of
Christ.  It is being revived in the Arab media. The Palestinian Authority's
TV station recently broadcast a sermon by the head of the Latin Church in
Gaza, not only repeating the accusation, but also embellishing it.  Jews
were accused not only of killing Jesus, but of killing Christians and
Muslims as well.

Blood libel.  For centuries, antisemites have spread the lie that Jews use
human blood for ritual purposes, most commonly in baking matzah, the flat
bread eaten on Passover.  Nonsense, of course: Jews are forbidden to eat
blood. It isn't kosher. It is remarkable that a modern Arab academic can
still find virtue in not only disseminating this inflammatory medieval myth,
but in adding a creative new twist to it. Thus we find Dr Umayma Ahmad
Al-Jalahma, an academic at Saudi Arabia's King Faisal University, describing
in grotesque detail how "Jewish vampires" place non-Jewish victims in a
"needle-studded barrel", then drain and dry the blood for use in "pastries"
for the festival of Purim.  This, said the learned author, was "a
well-established fact".

Jewish conspiracy theory.  A continuing theme of Jew-haters for the past
century is conspiracy theory, the insane idea that a small group of Jews
control everything of importance: the banks, the media, the US Congress, you
name it.  This favourite theme of antisemites the world over has been
freshly exploited in the Arab press. Y. Aladiri, writing in the on-line
Syrian Times, asks rhetorically, "Who does rule America?" (no prizes for
guessing his answer) and goes on to repeat the calumny that the Israeli
Mossad had prior knowledge of the events of September 11.  The Palestinian
Authority's Al-Quds claimed that the American media are "controlled by the
Jewish power", an idea echoed by Iran's Teheran Times, which asserted that
"Zionist Jews control the mass media in the United States".

Two other lines of antisemitic propaganda have a more modern twist.

Comparisons of Zionism with Nazism.  If these medieval themes fail to ignite
sufficient hatred, Arab propagandists have been steadily working away for
more than a quarter century at another line of truth inversion.  This is to
compare Israel with Nazi Germany, and portray Palestinians instead of Jews
as the new victims.  It ought to go without saying that the analogy is
entirely false. The typical Nazi response to an attack by an underground
resistance group was to round up several hundred civilians and massacre
them.  Israel's military actions, in contrast, have been solely aimed at
capturing (and sometimes killing) terrorists and preventing further attacks
by destroying terrorist infrastructure.  None of this impresses the Arab
media.  The Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, for example, carried an
article by Salah ad-Din Hafez which refers to the "annihilation crime
against the Palestinian people" and the "Zionist Holocaust".  In the same
paper, Muhammed as-Sayyid Said writes of the "Nazi-Zionist state" and
manages to engage in some psychological projection by referring to "massacre
celebrations" by Israelis. (The only recent massacre celebrations over the
death of civilians were by some Arabs celebrating September 11.)

In Saudi Arabia, the English language on-line Arab News warned of "an
impending Palestinian Holocaust" and compared Israel's Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon with Adolf Hitler.  The government daily, Al-Riyadh, referred to
Sharon's "horrible massacres, which exceeded the Nazism massacres".
Numerous cartoons in Arab dailies combine caricatures of Sharon with
swastika symbols

Holocaust denial.  In the very same week that it published numerous articles
comparing the treatment of Palestinians to Hitler's Holocaust, Egypt's
Al-Ahram carried an article by Ibrahim Nafi that called the Holocaust "one
of the biggest lies on the world stage".  Al-Akhbar published a lengthy
piece by Fatma Abdallah Mahmoud, which called the Holocaust "a fabrication"
and announced that Hitler was "completely innocent".  Mahmoud's main
complaint was that Hitler didn't do the job:  "If only you had done it,
brother, if only it had really happened..." Not to be outdone, the Saudi
Al-Riyadh scorned Israel's annual memorial day for Holocaust victims,
claiming that the deaths of six million Jews were "lies".

Put side by side, the absurd irrationality of antisemitism is displayed with
blinding clarity in these two Holocaust themes. The Palestinian holocaust
was worse than the Jewish holocaust, which didn't happen?

Actually, there is a history lesson that can be learned from the Holocaust,
but it is diametrically opposed to the one that Arab propagandists wish to
transmit.  The "Zionism equals Nazism" lie is an attempt to retell the
Eichmann story, with Israelis cast as the new killers and the Palestinians
as their unfortunate victims.  The more instructive lesson from the
Holocaust is the Goebbels story, which highlights the crucial role of the
Big Lie in preparing the German population for connivance in mass murder.
Auschwitz was built of bricks, but it was constructed on a foundation of
words.  Years before the Einsatzgruppen began their murderous work, long
before the gas chambers were built at Auschwitz, Nazi propagandists were
hard at work.  The German people were fed an incessant diet of antisemitic
hate propaganda in newspapers, films, street posters and schoolbooks. The
consequences are well known.  We now know that many ordinary people are
capable of being turned into mass killers by indoctrinating them with lies
and hate propaganda.  It's not difficult: just portray your own culture as
superior, the "only true way", blame some identifiable target group for all
the ills that beset your own society, and finally denigrate the members of
that group as inferior beings, unfit to live amongst you, perhaps even unfit
to live at all.  The numerous antisemitic incidents in many countries during
the past year display a disturbing historical parallel to the events in
Germany in the mid-1930s.  Goebbels would no doubt have understood perfectly
well what is happening today.

*Dr Paul Gardner is the chairman of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation
Commission, the human rights arm of B'nai B'rith Australia/New Zealand.  The
quotations from Arab media are drawn from reports by the Middle East Media
Research Institute and the Anti-Defamation League.

ISSN 1445-0402 Copyright (c).
ADC Special Report is a publication of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation
Commission Inc (ADC), the human rights arm of B'nai B'rith Australia/New
Zealand which is dedicated to researching and combating all forms of racism.
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