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memri
April 1, 2004 No.
28

Anti-American and Antisemitic Cartoons in Leading Egyptian Government Weekly Al-Ahram: 1998-2004

Background

Al-Ahram newspapers [1] are controlled by the Egyptian government and edited by the government-appointed Ibrahim Nafi', who also serves aschairman of the Arab Journalists Association.

Following a MEMRI dispatch from an October 10, 2000 issue of Al-Ahram based on a centuries-old blood libel, according to which Jews used the blood of a priest in Damascus to make Passover matzoh, the French Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et L'antisémitisme (LICRA) filed a complaint against Nafi' for incitement to racial hatred. He was subpoenaed to appear before a French court, but was excused for alleged medical conditions. [2]

Comparing the U.S. to Nazi Germany

Many articles in Al-Ahram are anti-American and often compare the U.S. to Nazi Germany. For example, in an article describing U.S. officials as war criminals columnist Samir Amin, wrote: "Americans have come to regard themselves as the 'chosen people' - in practice, a synonym for the Nazi term, Herrenvolk. This is the threat which we are facing today. And this is why American imperialism (not 'Empire') will be even more brutal than its predecessors…" [3] Egyptian columnist and author Anis Mansour similarly explained that Al-Qa'ida members in Guantanamo Bay are being tortured by the U.S. "in a way unprecedented in history – worse than what Hitler did to his rivals from among the Jews and Christians." [4]

Conspiracy Theories Against the U.S. and the Jews

Conspiracy theories against the U.S. and the Jews are also common in Al-Ahram. President Hosni Mubarak was quoted shortly after September 11th in an interview with Al-Ahram stating that: "I find it hard to believe that people who were learning to fly in Florida could, within a year and a half, fly large commercial airliners and hit with accuracy the towers of the World Trade Center which would appear, to the pilot from the air, the size of a pencil. Only a professional pilot could carry out this mission, not someone who learned to fly for 18 months in Florida. For your information, a license to fly commercial planes has many conditions, in terms of study and training. Many hours of flying are needed to qualify as a co-pilot, let alone a pilot, of such planes." [5]

More recently, on August 31, 2003, following a car bombing in Iraq that killed 120 people including Ayatollah Muhammad Bakir Al-Hakim, the former head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an editorial in Al-Ahram blamed the U.S.: "The responsibility for this very act of terrorism is Western responsibility – and, more specifically, American." [6]

In another editorial, editor Ibrahim Nafi' wrote during the early U.S. military actions in Afghanistan in October 2001 about "reports," according to which the U.S. military was purposely targeting Afghani women and children and dropping genetically treated food in areas full of landmines. Nafi' explained: "The humanitarian materials have been genetically treated, with the aim of affecting the health of the Afghani people. If this is true, the U.S. is committing a crime against humanity by giving the Afghani people hazardous humanitarian products, as it was said in those reports…" [7]

Other conspiracies against the U.S. printed in Al-Ahram include allegations that the CIA and the Mossad introduced the AIDS virus to Africa: "Foreign nurses injected them with the AIDS virus, while pretending to immunize them… The CIA or the Israeli Mossad were behind this crime…" [8] When Egypt Air Flight 990 crashed in 1999, Al-Ahram had a series of articles stating that the U.S. and Israel were behind the crash by quoting a series of high-ranking government officials. "Parliament Member Amin Hamed, from President Mubarak's National Democratic Party, said he believed, "the Israeli 'Mossad' infiltrated the American control tower and shifted the airplane from its course so it would be hit [by a missile]." Many parliament members supported this position. Member of Parliament 'Omar Barakat, from the opposition Al-Wafd party, said, "There was an American - Zionist conspiracy. I blame the CIA and the Mossad, because 33 Egyptian officers were on board the airplane." [9]

The Jews were Behind September 11th

Dr. Gamal 'Ali Zahran, head of the political science department at Suez Canal University, wrote in Al-Ahram shortly after September 11th: "At the WTC, thousands of Jews worked in finance and the stock market, but none of them were there on the day of the incident. Out of 6,000 killed, of 65 nationalities from 60 countries, not one was a Jew!" Dr. Zahran later wrote: "There were many rumors, and open publicity, that the Jews, who were huge stockholders in the airlines and insurance companies, sold their stocks at the highest possible prices some 10 days before the attacks on America. After the stock market began functioning again, on September 17 … the Jews competed amongst themselves to buy [these] stocks at the lowest possible prices, or waited until the stocks reached their minimal value and then acquired them, for tremendous profits. There is no doubt that this can expose their involvement in the crime. This demands covert investigation by U.S. government bodies far from the official investigative bodies."

Columnist Muhammad Abd Al-Fattah Muhsin also wrote in Al-Ahram blaming Israel for September 11: "Israel, and the Jewish lobby behind it, have managed to drag American society into launching a hate campaign against Arabs and Muslims, after they pinned the blame for terrorism on them. They have depicted the Arabs and Muslims as the ones behind the tragic events of 'Black Tuesday.' Yet if we browse through the pages of history, we find obvious clues [indicating] that terrorism is originally 'made in Israel'…"

A comprehensive article also appeared in Al-Ahram by Ahmad Abu Zayid, titled 'The Jews are Behind the Explosions in America.' In it Abu Zayid counted 14 "pieces of evidence" in support of the theory that Israel and the Mossad were involved in the September 11th attacks, and cites other examples which appeared in Al-Ahram as evidence. [10]

European-Inspired Antisemitism in Al-Ahram

Antisemitic themes such as the Blood Libel and support of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' can also be found in Al-Ahram. Anis Mansour wrote, "[Without Israeli casualties,] it would become clear to the world that what happened to the Jews of Germany, Poland, and Russia, was justified. It is not true that all the Jews are peaceniks. There is a suicidal sect among them that does not desire to live. [Therefore,] they kindle the people's hatred and hostility and, as a result, people turn against them. Although there are many intelligent people among them, they use their intellect to devise new ways for people everywhere to hate them and unite against them. Because megalomania overcomes the Jewish peoples, they do not bow their heads in order to survive; they prefer to surface and [appear] behind the steering wheels of the leadership in the US and Europe, in order to evoke people's empathy. They were in the shadows, in the rear lines, and in the dark alleys before the establishment of the State of Israel. They prefer an Israel surrounded by enemies, to a ghetto that no one has heard of. Therefore, a large number of Jews opposed the establishment of the State of Israel, which became a target for all the Arabs. They believe that Israel was established before the time set for it in the Jewish religion. This is a Pariah state. Its existence [is prohibited, and so are], its money, its army, and having any relations with it." [11]

Similarly, Dr. Mustafa Mahmoud, Ph.D, wrote in Al-Ahram that Jews control the world, and stated: "The torments of Hell [that you Jews will face] are … unfathomable to the [human] mind… It will be the Holocaust all over again, only this time an eternal Holocaust with no hope and no salvation. It will be an eternal curse. What benefit will they [the Jews] derive from the dominion they have achieved in this world, once they leave it? How will they benefit from their riches when they reach absolute poverty [in Hell]? Who will rescue them? There is no America there, and if America were there, it would not be able to help them; rather, it would share their fate…" [12]

When the U.S. government criticized the 2002 Egyptian-produced Ramadan TV series 'Knight Without a Horse,' which was based on the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' Egyptian journalists such as Al-Ahram's Muhammad Salleh responded as follows: "… They [the Jews] managed to prevent the performance of Shakespeare's wonderful work The Merchant of Venice in the theaters of Europe and America, [but] they will not succeed in dictating their position to the Arab world… It is the stupidest joke, but it reveals the extent of the arrogance in Israel and in the U.S., its patron…" [13]

Support for Suicide Attacks

Al-Ahram often supports suicide bombings against Israel. For example, following the attack by Wafa Idris, the first female Palestinian suicide bomber, Al-Ahram editor Nafi' wrote: "She decided to end her fresh young life at a moment of a profound sense of oppression such as no people had suffered as the Palestinians do. But before that, she decided that her death would reverberate so as to draw attention to the tragedy created by the Israelis, with their airplanes and tanks against a defenseless people. She blew herself up on Haifa Road [sic], bustling with innocent people – like Wafa herself… She left on a morning like every other morning. No one noticed signs of tension. She smiled at the children in the family, and continued on the path set for her to blow herself up on Haifa Street… so as to tell the world that the body itself would turn into a time bomb at any moment and that the idea that one organization was a terrorist organization and another was a peaceful organization had no meaning." [14]

Al-Ahram columnist Ahmad Baghat also praised Wafa Idris, stating: "Wafa revealed the meaning of the Palestinian personality; she revealed the heroism of the Palestinian woman and turned from a living creature walking on the Earth to a symbol that went down in history, the trace of which cannot be eradicated. As a nurse, her work was like that of the merciful angels." [15]

Following another suicide bombing in Jerusalem, Islamist columnist in Al-Ahram Fahmi Huweidi wrote: "I cannot hide my happiness about the martyrdom operation that took place in Jerusalem last Thursday. I won't deny that it liberated me from the sorrow and misery that have overtaken me over the past weeks… In this dismal atmosphere, the operation that took place in Jerusalem was, for me, a ray of hope and a life-saver…" [16]

Anti-American and Antisemitic Cartoons

The anti-American and antisemitic content of Al-Ahram is evident in its use of political cartoons, which are closely associated with the incitement in editorials, and news stories by the paper's writers. The following report includes cartoons that have appeared in Al-Ahram from 1998-2004, and focus on: September 11th, the U.S. as a world bully, President Bush as a Crusader, the U.S. as cowboys, the U.S. as being obsessed with oil, and conspiracy theories about the U.S. and the Jews. There has been no noticeable difference in attitude against the U.S. between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration. [17]

Cartoons Glossary

I. September 11
II. The U.S. - Bully of the World
III. President Bush the Crusader
IV. The U.S. and W.M.D.
V. The Sinister U.S.
VI. The U.S. Motivated by Oil
VII. The U.S. - British Evil Alliance
VIII. President Bush and Iraq
IX. The Evil U.S. Soldiers in Iraq
X. The U.S. - Cowboys of the World

TO VIEW THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT INCLUDING THE CARTOONS IN PDF FORMAT, CLICK HERE.

* Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of MEMRI.

 

[1] Al-Ahram has multiple editions: a daily in Arabic, and weeklies in Arabic, English, and French.

[2] Among other things, the article stated: "[The Jews] put [the priest's] neck on a basin, and slaughtered him. They were very careful to make sure that not a single drop was spilled. Then they moved him to another room, burned his clothes, and cut his body to pieces, which they put into a sack and threw to the sewage near the Jewish Quarter."

[3] Egyptian Columnist Compares U.S. with Nazi Germany May 9, 2003, ' An Arab Intellectual in Qatar: 'Arab Media's Conduct During the War is Indicative of a Deeper Malaise.'

 

[4] Egyptian Government Daily: America's Torture of Al-Qa'ida Prisoners Worse Than Hitler's Treatment of Jewish and Christian 'Rivals' February 1, 2002, ' Egyptian Government Daily: America's Torture of Al-Qa'ida Prisoners Worse Than Hitler's Treatment of Jewish and Christian 'Rivals.''

 

[5] MEMRI Hill Report; Al-Ahram Weekly, October 25, 2001.

[6] Egyptian Government Daily Al-Ahram: The U.S. is Behind the Najaf Bombing September 1, 2003, ' Egyptian Government Daily Al-Ahram: The U.S. is Behind the Najaf Bombing.

 

[7] Terror in America (20): Editor of Leading Egyptian Government Daily Al-Ahram: The U.S. is Dropping Afghanis Genetically Altered Food… in Areas Full of Landmines October 26, 2001, ' Terror in America (20): Editor of Leading Egyptian Government Daily Al-Ahram: The U.S. is Dropping Afghanis Genetically Altered Food… in Areas Full of Landmines.'

 

[8] Qadhafi: The CIA and the Israeli Mossad injected AIDS to Libyan children May 1, 2001, ' Qadhafi: The CIA and the Israeli Mossad injected AIDS to Libyan children.'

 

[9] Egyptian Reactions to the EgyptAir Crash Investigation December 6, 1999, ' Egyptian Reactions to the EgyptAir Crash Investigation.'

 

[10] Timmerman, Kenneth. Preachers of Hate; Islam and the War on America. New York: Crown Forum, 2003.

[11] Egyptian Journalists on Sharon and the Holocaust February 22, 2001, ' Egyptian journalists on Sharon and the Holocaust.'

[12] Jews Are Destroying Russia; Anti-Semitic Article in the Leading Egyptian Daily April 12, 2000, ' Jews are Destroying Russia. Anti-Semitic Article in the Leading Egyptian Daily.'

 

[13] Arab Press Debates Antisemitic Egyptian Series 'Knight Without a Horse' - Part II- November 20, 2002, ' Arab Press Debates Antisemitic Egyptian Series 'Knight Without a Horse.' - Part II'

 

[14] Wafa Idris: The Celebration of the First Female Palestinian Suicide Bomber - Part III- February 14, 2002, ' Wafa Idris: The Celebration of the First Female Palestinian Suicide Bomber - Part III.'

 

[15] Wafa Idris: The Celebration of the First Female Palestinian Suicide Bomber - Part III- February 14, 2002, ' Wafa Idris: The Celebration of the First Female Palestinian Suicide Bomber - Part III.'

 

[16] I Cannot Hide My Happiness about the Martyrdom Operation that Took Place in Jerusalem. An Op-Ed in Egypt's Leading Government Daily August 31, 2001, ' I Cannot Hide My Happiness about the Martyrdom Operation that Took Place in Jerusalem. An Op-Ed in Egypt's Leading Government Daily.'

 

[17] U.S. politicians have spoken out against the anti-American and antisemitic incitement in the Egyptian media. Last year at a MEMRI event about the Egyptian 'Knight Without a Horse' Ramadan television series, sponsored by House International Relations Committee members Tom Lantos (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Henry Waxman (D-CA), Congressman Lantos explained, "Each time I meet with President Mubarak, I present him with a series of antisemitic cartoons that have appeared in the Egyptian press. His response is invariably that the media is free and not controlled by the government. [This is] palpably untrue."