May 4, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 90

Anti-Barak Rhetoric in the Egyptian Media

May 4, 2000
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 90

Since the collapse of the Clinton-Assad summit in Geneva, both the government and the opposition press in Egypt have been increasingly critical of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The criticism takes the form of typical anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric. The common theme holds that Barak is worse than Netanyahu. While this could be merely a matter of political tactics aimed at prompting a change in Israel's policy, it still marks a serious change in the attitude towards the present Israeli government. Following are two examples:

Barak is like Nero

In the government daily Al-Akhbar,[1] Dr. Said Al-Kurdi compares Barak to Nero:

"The Roman emperor Nero, whose [reign] was characterized by despotism and cruelty, set fire to Rome in 64 AD. The Israeli emperor Ehud Barak, whose reign is characterized by deceit and light-headedness, has begun setting fire to Lebanon and plans to torch the entire Middle East…"

"Comparing the two arsonists is valid [and] uncovers the similarities between the goals of the Romans and the Israelis…"

"Nero burnt Rome claiming that the city was 'dirty.' He shifted the blame to the Christians and persecuted Christianity. We emphasize the word 'dirty' and move to Israeli emperor Ehud Barak, who, like other Israelis, thinks Israel is 'an island of cleanliness in a sea of dirt.' [Former Israeli Prime Minister] Shimon Peres said this at the Davos conference. Therefore, the Middle East must be completely burnt …beginning with Lebanon, while blaming Hizbullah and the Palestinians fighting for the liberation of their land from ...a state that seems more like a gang of robbers in the heart of a civilized region."

"The Middle Eastern Nero thinks in terms of the double standards that prohibit a Jew from harming his fellow Jew, but allow him to harm a non-Jew…."

"The Christian Holy Book …warned us that the heretics from amongst the Israelites are a 'rebellious [sect]'. …The Koran warned us, in Allah's words: "Thou shalt certainly find the bitterest of people in enmity against the believers [Muslims] to be the Jews.'[2] …Jews do not fulfill the treaties they sign, and they should not be trusted because they are a nation of vagabonds filled with hatred toward the entire world. Therefore, the world must know the psychological nature of the Israeli emperor before he explodes in anger, setting fire to the entire Middle East."

"It seems that Israel has forgotten the lesson it was taught by the Egyptian army in October [1973]… Although Israel is now 'burning' on a low flame -- the flame of hatred of the Arabs and the world -- the Arab summit must not be delayed and it must examine new methods. [For] when the fire breaks out, it will devour its entire surroundings indiscriminately."

Barak -- Worse than Pharoah

'Abbas Al-Tarabily, editor of the opposition daily Al-Wafd, which is affiliated with the secular nationalist Wafd party, writes[3]:

"Because of what former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did to us for over three years, we cursed him and prayed that Allah would remove him from our path -- the path of peace. The early elections in Israel gave us a chance from heaven to make use of Israel's democracy …we hoped for his [arrival], we wrote articles and songs of praise…"

"We all wanted Netanyahu's downfall because of his rigidity, his hostile policy, his objection to the peace process, and because he ruined every opportunity [to promote peace]. Everyone who attacked Netanyahu said that no Israeli could ever be worse."

"However, it turned out that all the Arab hopes were misplaced. Time has shown that Barak is worse than Netanyahu; he is more hostile to peace than Netanyahu. He supports the extremist settlers as if he were their leader. [Barak], who we thought would be Moses, turned out to be Pharaoh. In fact, even Pharaoh was not as despotic as Barak. It is enough to recall that in his nine month reign, he has built more houses for settlers than Netanyahu did in three years."

"However, Barak is not satisfied with disrupting the peace process, like his predecessor did. He has torn up all the agreements signed by his predecessors. It has reached the point where he dashed the agreement he himself had signed. Moreover, he ignores those who witnessed the signing, like Egypt and the US."

"What else can be said?"

"In the past we spoke of hawks and doves in Israel, and about one hand covered with a silk glove, and another which is an iron fist. But they are all Zionists from head to toe; there is no difference between the extremists who founded the Zionist state, and those who followed them and protected it, or those who made a commitment to 'expand' its borders."

"In the past we heard [Arabs] who promised to cast Israel into the sea, and who referred to it as the 'so-called state,' or as the 'state of gangs.'"

"Today...we try to regain the land like beggars, one meter after the other... Will we get to the Sea of Galilee, where it had been since the dawn of history? Will the sovereignty of sister Syria reach its northeastern shore? Barak is determined to prevent Syria from getting there …even though we speak of only one quarter of the lake."

"It proves that they are all Zionists, from Ben-Gurion to Barak. It is just happenstance that they belong to this or that political party. Their faces have changed, but their strategy is one and the activity for its completion is at full speed…"

"What happened with Barak, who we prayed to take Netanyahu down, brings us to call him 'Barahu' [i.e. Barak-Netanyahu]. It is sufficient to remember that it was Ehud Barak who wore prostitute's clothes, painted his face, and put on a wig when he led in the murder of Kamal 'Adwan and his comrades in Beirut."

"What will we do now, after it has turned out that they are all thieves, that is to say, Zionists?"

[1] Al-Akhbar (Egypt). April 12, 2000.

[2] The Koran, Suran Al-Malidah, verse 82.

[3] Al-Wafd (Egypt). April 17, 2000.

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