November 20, 2002 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 113

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

November 20, 2002
Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 113

Egyptian and other television channels throughout the Arab world continue the broadcast of the 41 episodes of the Egyptian television series "Knight Without a Horse." The ongoing debate in the Arab media regarding the series is gaining momentum; every day new articles on the series, on Israel's and the U.S.'s protest against its broadcast, on antisemitism, and on the authenticity of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" appear in the press. The following are excerpts from articles in the Arab press regarding the series (for a plot synopsis of the series, see the appendix which follows this analysis):

The Arguments about Freedom of Expression Are Invalid
The majority of columnists and editorialists have come out in favor of airing the series; a few, however, have expressed displeasure with the Arab media's use of the Protocols. Daoud Shirian, a Saudi columnist for the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat, challenged the argument that the series' airing was evidence of Egypt's freedom of expression: "…Our position as Egyptians and Arabs, in defense of the series, appears weak, because it is based on the right of [freedom of] expression. In Egypt itself, a [government] warning was sent yesterday to the Dream satellite channel [which is broadcasting the series], in the matter of a political program [in which veteran journalist Hasanayn Heikal discussed the question of who President Mubarak's successor will be]. In many Arab countries, newspapers, offices of satellite channels, and news agencies are being shut down. Therefore, basing our [arguments] on the principles of freedom of expression... does not serve our interests… As long as the Arab media remain 'official,' America and other [nations] will continue to interfere in its affairs and violate their sovereignty."[1]

When Arabs Say 'We are Semites,' the West Laughs
The Egyptian intellectual Mamoun Fendi, who lives and writes in the U.S., also refuted the "Egyptian freedom of expression" argument. However, his article primarily dealt with another claim that has emerged repeatedly in the Arab media – that the Arabs are Semites and therefore cannot be antisemites. Fendi wrote: "When Arabs respond to accusations of antisemitism with the argument that 'we are Semites,' the West laughs... because the term 'antisemitism,' as it is understood here in the West, is not the result of an anthropological classification of the races… The 'semitism' of the concept of 'antisemitism'… is mostly connected to the Jewish holocausts in Europe – that is, to the hatred of those people [the Jews], which led directly to the gas chambers in which the Jews were cremated. Therefore, when some Arabs say 'We are Semites,' the ordinary man [asks]: 'When exactly were the Arabs cremated in the gas chambers of Europe, and how are the Arabs connected to this?' Of course the Arabs were not cremated by the Nazis. Therefore, the Arabs' claim that they are 'Semites' is... an attempt to shove themselves into someone else's history…"

"There are [in the West]... some who ask whether this [Arab] attempt to shake free [of charges of antisemitism] is connected to the Arabs' denial of this history, and that therefore, they stand in the same ranks as Europe's Neo-Nazis who deny that the gas chambers existed and that the Holocaust [ever] happened… While Germany purifies itself of this historical crime, we find that some Arabs celebrate the event [i.e. the Holocaust]…"[2]

Egyptian Press Largely in Favor of the Series
The Egyptian press has emerged largely in favor of the series. An editorial titled "No to Ideological Terrorism," which appeared in the government daily Al-Akhbar,declared: "Those who cast doubts upon the authenticity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zionargue that it was the Russian Czar Nikolai II's [secret police] who compiled them, with the aim of placing responsibility for Russia's suffering during his time on the Jews. According to them, the Protocols were Hitler's justification for building the gas chambers!!… The most important question is: in practice, doesn't Zionism seek to take over the world with money, murder, sex, and the [other] most despicable of means, primarily in our generation?"[3]

In the same issue of Al-Akhbar was an article authored by Fatma Abdallah Mahmoud, who in April 2002 published an article castigating Hitler for not finishing the job of annihilating the Jews.[4] Mahmoud wrote: "Those murderers [the Jews], the slaughterers, the war criminals, the blood-letters, the enemies of all mankind… never stop playing their worn-out record, the same lame charge and the same discordant tune not based on any foundation of truth – that we are antisemites!!"

"This charge has become no more than a pointless joke – a joke that arouses contempt and revulsion and reveals their absolute ignorance in all things concerning the simplest foundations of their religion. How can we be antisemites when we are Semitic in origin, even more Semitic than they? Our fathers and grandfathers were Semites. Can we be hostile towards ourselves? We are not mentally ill, and we are not afflicted with schizophrenia, that we should hate ourselves…"

"If only those murderers of children who take refuge in their fathers' arms, who rip open the bellies of pregnant women and scatter their fetuses and their intestines in all directions, those war criminals whose hands drip from head to toe [sic] with the blood of innocent Palestinians – if only they would open the history books a little and read this simple sentence that faithfully expresses truth and reality: 'The Muslims are of Semitic origin'…"

"The unshakable truth is that the 'Sons of Zion' are the antisemites and the enemies of all humanity… What incriminates them more than anything else, and charges them with antisemitism and enmity towards humanity is the [book]… [that is] satanic in its blood and loathsome in its baseness, called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion!!… The book of protocols drips poison and hatred towards every non-Jew who lives on the face of the earth!!…" Mahmoud's article continues, citing excerpts from the Protocols.[5]

In contrast, Al-Akhbar columnist Wagih Abu Zikra wrote that he "tended to reject the view that the Jews are connected to this book…" He continued, "Israel, and even most of the Jews of the world, carry out the Protocols' plan, whether they were written by the rabbis or not, whether the Jewish terrorists have read them or not."[6]

In the Egyptian government Al-Ahram daily, articles in favor of the series have appeared alongside other articles condemning it. Zeinab Al-Imam expressed her "eternal gratitude to whoever took part in this work and helped complete it. Eternal gratitude and a special blessing to the knight, the hero of the story [actor Muhammad Subhi], who grasped the importance of transforming art into a weapon to use in an informed manner and to brandish it in the face of the enemy; it is the weapon that does not spill blood, but makes minds enlightened…"[7]

In an article titled "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – Truth and Illusion," also published in Al-Ahram, Hazem Abd Al-Rahman wrote: "…We do not hate the Israeli people and we do not hate the Jewish part of this people… [I]s it, then, appropriate for us to base [the series] on [this] forged, inciting, and false material?"[8]

Yet most of the authors of articles published in Al-Ahram disagreed with Abd Al-Rahman, and expressed their support of the series. Muhammad Salleh wrote: "… 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…"[9]

An article by Magdi Salem that was published in Aqidati, areligious weekly put out by the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriya, stated: "Two books had a destructive influence on the history of the human race... The first was Machiavelli's The Prince, and the second is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…"

"The book of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to which the Jews deny any connection, and say that it was forged by the Russian Czar's secret police hundreds of years ago, states the basic rules and policies employed by a group of human beings who think that they alone were given God's promise to inherit the earth and the people on it… The Jews deny that they have these base ideas, but always when a crime occurs, the finger is pointed towards the one who stands to gain from it. The Jews have gained from all that happened to the human race even in ancient times. They ignited the fire of wars from ancient times; it was they who today control all the great political forces in the world, which act for their benefit everywhere; it is they who wage offensives against whoever disagrees with them or exposes their methods. The word 'antisemitism' has become a ready-made accusation [directed] at anyone who dares to resist them."[10]Arab Media throughout the World State Their Case

Debate surrounding the series is also reflected in Arabic media published throughout the world. In the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Sweid wrote: "The attack [aimed at] eradicating the Protocols of the Elders of Zionhas been raging for some time… The aim is to clear the name of the Jews, in spite of what their hands are doing at this time, even if we have already forgotten the past, primarily after the murderers of the prophets [the Jews] received exoneration [from the pope] for spilling the blood of Our Lord Jesus, although they tried to kill him, as the Koran proves… Arab publishers throughout the world have a religious and national obligation to print, without considerations of profit or loss, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,in inexpensive popular editions, in Arabic and in [other] languages, including Hebrew. I call on owners of Arab satellite and official channels to air the 'Knight Without a Horse' series… The Protocols of the Elders of Zion istrue, and anyone who doubts this is invited to read them and see which of them have come true and in what way. He will find that the attempt now underway to eradicate the Protocols appears in the Protocols…"[11]

In the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Ahmad Abbas Salleh wrote that Arabs should not be expected to act objectively when Jews are involved: "…This is the second attempt to besiege Egyptian writings that they [the Americans] consider incitement [and] Jew-hatred. A few months ago, Egyptian author Adel Hamooda wrote an article in Al-Ahram in which he discussed the old story of how the Jews would kill a non-Jewish child and mix his blood into pastry that they eat as a religious ritual."[12]

[1] Al-Hayat (London), November 6, 2002.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 11, 2002.

[3] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), November 12, 2002.

[4] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 375, May 3, 2002, Columnist for Egyptian Government Daily to Hitler:'If Only You Had Done It, Brother'.

[5] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), November 12, 2002.

[6] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), November 8, 2002.

[7] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 6, 2002.

[8] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 6, 2002.

[9] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 9, 2002.

[10] Aqidati (Egypt), November 5, 2002.

[11] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), November 5, 2002.

[12] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 8, 2002.


Knight Without a Horse - Plot Synopsis
The 9th episode was the first in which Jews appeared: A group of religious Jews meet in a dark room to discuss a problem – a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been smuggled into Egypt and the Jews fear that the Egyptians will read the book and realize that the Jews are trying to do in Egypt what they did in Russia. The Jews go to talk with the French "Princess Margaret," the wife of the British commander, whom they think has the book. They ask her for it, but she denies any knowledge of it. They ask her not to force them to extort her, and she shouts at them not to threaten her and throws them out of the room. After they leave, Margaret takes the book and hides it in a drawer. Suddenly, the hero of the series, Hafez Nagib, appears; he has been concealed in the room during the interchange and has heard everything. When Margaret leaves, Hafez picks up the book, which is in Russian.

In the 10th episode, the Jews meet in a dark room decorated with Jewish symbols, such as a menorah with candles burning. They discuss the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and argue over whether Britain will help them establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine or not, as it had refrained from establishing a Jewish state in the Sinai. Most of the Jews argue that Britain has an interest in establishing such a state in Palestine to separate Egypt and Greater Syria, thus preventing Arab or Muslim unity."

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