December 10, 2002
Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 114

Arab Press Debates Antisemitic Egyptian Series 'Knight Without a Horse'- Part III

For Parts I and II, see MEMRI .http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/764.htm - and .http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/757.htm -.

Criticism from an Egyptian Human Rights Organization 
In a communiqué published by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, the organization condemned the airing of the "Knight Without a Horse" series: "The organization believes that [various] forms of expression should not be abused to propagate events that might incite hatred based on religion, race, color, or gender."[1] Organization secretary-general Hafez Abu Sa'adeh told The Associated Press: "Supporting the Palestinian cause doesn't need forged Protocols. What is happening on the ground [in the Palestinian territories] is more reprehensible than anything else."[2]

The View from Al-Azhar Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi 
The sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, was of a different opinion. In an interview, he told the Egyptian weekly Aakher Sa'a that he was too busy to watch the series, but that "what I know is that the source of Semitism is our master Noah, peace be upon him, who begat Shem, Ham, and Japhet. Shem definitely had offspring, which led to this tremendous number of white, red, yellow, and black people - that is, a collection of Jewish, Arab, Muslim, and other people. Thus, we are Semites and others are Semites, and Semitism is the monopoly of no one. However, what is important is that we are all the children of a single father and a single mother… we were created from a single soul. Whence, then, come discrimination and the argument that there are Semites and non-Semites? This claim comes from loathsome racism…"

"I assume that the series contains criticism of some of the Jews' traits, or that it presents these traits. But this is no reason to make such an artificial uproar. I have proven that we were Semites even before they were, and it is inconceivable for anyone to show hostility towards himself. I am a Semite - how, then, should I be hostile towards myself? The charge of antisemitism was invented by the Jews, as a means of pressuring the Arabs and Muslims and with the aim of implementing their conspiracies in the Arab and Muslim countries. It should be disregarded."[3]

A Syrian Government Official's Perspective 
Syrian ambassador to Oman Dr. Riyadh Na'san Agha wrote in the United Arab Emirates Daily, Al-Itihad: "The American position regarding the 'Knight Without a Horse' series aroused suspicions among some Arab intellectuals and artists that the day would come when the U.S. Congress would pass a law that the White House is responsible for censoring literary and cultural works in the Arab and Islamic world (in addition to its responsibility for censoring the curriculum). An [American] censorship department will be established, and its task will be to approve publication and broadcasting after it is ascertained that the work contains no criticism of Israel's policy, ideology, or goals. This department will report to the supreme authority in Tel Aviv, and if it catches any artistic or ideological work committing the crime of hurting the Zionists' feelings… the ones responsible for the work will be arrested and brought before the court of the Zionist inquisition on charges of antisemitism."

"The first paradox is that many Americans and some Europeans are unaware that this charge, which Israel uses to persecute and blackmail them, cannot be directed at the Arabs because they themselves are Semites…"

"In contrast, the Western Jews and the settlers who come from Europe, America, and the whole world - and they are the majority in Israel - have no connection to Semitism…"

"The second paradox is that the Arabs were completely uninterested in the book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is not mentioned in the literature of the Palestinian issue or in the Arab curricula. Even if it is mentioned in some sources, there is some doubt as to its authenticity. Perhaps the secret behind this disregard of the book lies in the fact that the Arabs are not interested in lending any mythological aspect to Zionism [which is what the book does]. However, some Arabs do not rule out the possibility that a group among the Zionists wrote this book and sent it out to the markets… and then there was an uproar about it, to provide publicity and to rake in the profits, as well as to arouse fear and horror among the Gentiles…"

"The third paradox is that 50 and a half years ago, the Arabs stated that their quarrel with Zionism does not mean a quarrel with the Jewish religion. Many Oriental Jews lived in their Arab homelands for centuries, and no one persecuted, imprisoned, or expelled them as was done in the West. On the contrary; they held top positions in the courts of the Arab regimes, as in commerce and medicine. They also had a monopoly on gold. Even in the years of the conflict, before and after the 1948 war, the Jews remained in the Arab region and no one harmed them…"

"The fourth paradox is that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which are presumably are drawn from the Torah and the Talmud, imply hostility towards Christianity and not towards Islam… As the story goes, when the Russian [Czar] Nikolai Alexandrovich found out what resolutions were passed in the famous Basle congress, he was horrified, because they stated that the Jews would act to enslave the entire world in order to control it. He gave a copy of the Protocols to his friend the Russian scientist Sergei Nilus, who translated them, researched them, and compared what was written in them to what happened in the world during that time, and found a match. For this reason, there was pandemonium in Czarist Russia when the document became widespread in 1902, and because of the Russian anger against the Jews, massacres were carried out, in one of which 10,000 victims were murdered. The Jews collected the copies of the book [from the shops], burned them, and renounced it…"

"The Americans were interested in the Protocols. It reminded them of the speech to Congress by their president, Benjamin Franklin,[4] in which he said: "Gentlemen, a great danger threatens the United States. This danger is the Jews. Everywhere they act to bring down morality. Throughout their long history, they have remained isolated, cut off from the nations among which they lived. They have not integrated into the cultures, but acted always to incite financial crises and strangle the economies [of these nations], as happened in Portugal and Spain. If they are not expelled from the U.S. in accordance with the constitution, within a hundred years they will come to this land in great numbers, and will take us over and destroy us.'"

"The Americans were also reminded of the words of their president, Lincoln: 'I see on the horizon a crisis slowly approaching. This crisis makes me fear for the well-being of my country. Today, the power is in the hands of the big companies, and this will lead to corruption reaching the highest offices, since the wealthy will act to preserve their control of the country, and the all the country's resources will be under the control (of a small group)… which will lead to the shattering of the Republic...'"[5]

Syrian Media Perspective 
In the Syrian media, there was unequivocal support for the series. In the ruling party's Al-Ba'th daily, columnist Wahib Sarrai Al-Din wrote: "… The Protocols are based on the flagellation of human society, sucking its blood, harming its sanctity, and attacking human rights, morality, and general values so as to take ownership of all the nations of the world - which Zionism calls 'Gentiles' to be treated as it says in the Talmud: 'The Jews must not show sympathy for the Gentile, because the Gentile is his enemy and the enemy of [the Jewish] Jehovah…'"

After more discussion of the Protocols, and citing lengthy excerpts from them, Sarrai Al-Din wrote that the Protocols called for the "destruction of the world." However, he hastened to reassure his readers that "the Palestinian people and all the Arabs have decided to enter the battle to defend their land, their rights, and all humanity."[6]

Egyptian Government Daily Responds to U.S. Criticism 
An editorial in the Egyptian government daily Al-Masaa discussed the argument that the U.S. was threatening to stop foreign aid to Egypt because of the airing of the program; the paper's response to the U.S.: "Go to hell with your aid."[7]

Palestinian Authority Daily on the Series 
The Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida criticized the series in an article by the director of the Palestinian Information Ministry, Ahmad Dahbour. Dahbour wrote: "…The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a stupid pamphlet full of nonsense, that depicts an international conference of the [forces of] evil, led by yellow-faced people capable of grasping the world in their hands… like a boiled egg and squashing it. The conflict with the Zionist enterprise is graver and more dangerous than these nonsensical words. If we do not present Zionism as it is - a nationalistic, racist European movement that emerged at the periphery of the old colonialism and imperialism - we will make ourselves easy prey…"[8]


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 19, 2002.

[2] The Jerusalem Post (Israel), November 19, 2002; http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1037681827406

[3] Akher Sa'a (Egypt), November 20, 2002.

[4] For more on this 1935 Nazi propaganda forgery, see MEMRI Special Dispatches Nos. 166, 175, 327, 357, 362, 269, 421, at http://www.memri.org/sd.html.

[5] Al-Itihad (UAE), November 14, 2002. The reference to the Lincoln speech is a new antisemitic element MEMRI has not previously encountered.

[6] Al-Ba'ath (Syria). November 20, 2002.

[7] Al-Masaa (Egypt), November 17, 2002.

[8] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), November 14, 2002.


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