July 10, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 995

The Image Of The Jew In The Ramadan TV Show 'Khaybar' – Treacherous, Hateful Of The Other, Scheming, And Corrupt

July 10, 2013 | By Y. Yehoshua*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 995


During the month of Ramadan, Arab TV channels air drama and comedy shows to entertain viewers after they break their fast. One of the shows airing this year is a docudrama called "Khaybar," which is the name of the Jewish community in the Arabian Peninsula conquered by the Prophet Muhammad in 628 CE.

The show deals with relations between Muslims and the Arab tribes of Medina, as well as with the Jews of Medina and Khaybar, leading up to the Jews' expulsion from the latter.[1] According to media reports in early 2013, the show "focuses on the social, economic, and religious lives of the Jews, including their politics, their plots, and the way they managed and controlled the [Aws and Khazraj Arab] tribes." The show also portrays "the [Jews'] hostility and hatred towards others, along with their treacherous nature, their repeated betrayals, and their despicable racism."[2]

Poster for the show released by Echo Media[3]

There are several subplots in the show. It opens with an Arab warrior from Hadhramaut named Miqdad appearing in Medina; after displaying his skills in the town square, is approached by the Jews of Khaybar, who attempt to persuade him to become their chief warrior. However, he refuses to kill women and children, and is sent to prison. Later, he decides to convert to Islam. Another subplot deals with a family of decent Jews who are sword makers and are tasked with forging swords for the rich Jews. The son, Yousuf – who has an affair with a woman from one of the Arab tribes – feels guilty about making swords for the warmongering Jews. The show also features Zaynab, a Jewish woman whose father and brother were killed by the Muslims and who seeks vengeance by attempting to poison the prophet.

The show was created by Qatari producer Hashem Al-Sayed, with the collaboration of Egyptian screenwriter Yusri Al-Gindi and Jordanian director Muhammad Aziziya, and produced by Al-Sayed's company Echo Media. Filmed in Egypt and Morocco, it features many well-known Arab actors, such as Egyptian actor Sameh Al-Sereity, Syrian actresses Sulafa Mi'mar and Nesreen Al-Tafesh, Jordanian actress 'Abeer 'Issa, and Iraqi actors Bajhat Al-Jaburi and Bassem Al-Qahar.[4] It was reported that the show would air on numerous channels, including Dubai TV, Dream TV (Egypt), Al-Iraqiyya TV (Iraq), Algerian Channel 3, Atlas TV (Algeria), Qatar TV, and UAE TV; as of this writing, however, the show is airing on Dubai TV, Dream 3 (Egypt), and three Algerian channels: Channel 3, Atlas TV, and the Algerian Koran channel. The first two episodes were leaked online before their scheduled airdates and were translated and released by MEMRI TV.

Director Muhammad Aziziya: The Show Sheds Light On The Treacherous And Vindictive Nature Of The Jews

Throughout the last year, Arab, and especially Egyptian media have followed the show's filming, reported on the status and locations of production, and interviewed the creators and actors. Some of these reports were tinged with antisemitism. For example, the Egyptian daily Al-Fajr's June 20, 2013 report on the wrapping up of filming was titled "The Treachery Of The Jews Ends Next Sunday."[5]

Article in Egyptian daily
Al-Fajr: "The Treachery Of The Jews Ends Next Sunday"

Media coverage of the show also included interviews with the creators and actors, in which they discussed the show and its antisemitic content. Director Muhammad Aziziya told the Egyptian daily Al-Wafd: "'Khaybar' is a historical drama that sheds light on the nature of the Jews, their deception and betrayal of Islam, and the Messenger [Muhammad], starting with the raid on Khaybar. It exposes their hatred of Islam and the vindictive nature that has ruled them throughout history."[6]

Lead Actor: Hostility And Hatred Between Us And The Jews Still Exists

Sameh Al-Seriety, one of the lead actors in the show, who plays the role of Muhammad ibn Maslamah – the bodyguard of the Prophet Muhammad who, according to Muslim tradition, beheaded the poet Ka'b Al-Ashraf, the most important Jew in Medina – told the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouq that the show portrays some Jewish traits and shows the evolution of their hatred for the other, that is, for Muslims. He also said: "The hostility between us and the Jews still exists. The hatred is ingrained. Neither Egyptians nor Arabs need this show to justify their hatred of Zionism. The existing struggles between us provide the simplest proof of this."[7]

Sameh Al-Seriety on the set

In a clip released by MEMRI TV, various members of the cast make antisemitic remarks. Actor Mustafa Hashish, for example, said on Dream TV: "I play one of the most prominent Jews, who hatches plots and schemes. He is, of course, very miserly – the purely typical Jew. He is called Abu Khallad. He is killed by his son. So this gives you an idea what the Jews are made of."[8]

Actor Ahmad 'Abd Al-Halim said: "I play one of the Jewish characters, who demonstrates the behavior of the Jewish human being. All he thinks about is accumulating money." Actor Ahmad Maher said: "History has shown that the Jews are a people with no moral values, who do not honor their agreements." According to him, screenwriter Yusri Al-Gindi "created a historical document showing how these people are oppressors, who do not honor their agreements. History shows that they are the people who disputed Allah. They are the slayers of prophets."[9]

Screenwriter Yusri Al-Gindi: The Jews Corrupt Any Society In Which They Live

The show's screenwriter, Yusri Al-Gindi, gave frequent interviews about the program, its screenplay, and its meaning. In an interview with the Al-Jazeera website, he said that the show deals with two topics: "One is that the Messenger of Allah established a civil state with full citizenship and equality among its residents, including the Jews. The second topic is that despite the civil rights provided by the Charter of Medina [in which Muhammad declared that all Muslim believers are brothers who must not fight each other], the Jews did not cooperate, violated the constitution, and could not adapt and agree to the new regime unprecedented in the annals of mankind. They responded with fraud, scheming, and later with outright betrayal."

He added: "The Jews are the Jews. They still act according to their nature, despite the passing generations. They corrupt any society in which they live, and therefore no regime can protect them with any contract or agreement. The crisis in the Arab world offers the best proof of this, and this is where the show gets its current relevance."

According to him, one of the lessons conveyed by the show is "that the Jews are hostile to any attempt at growth or renewal by other elements. They opposed the first Islamic state, and today they oppose the [Arab and Islamic] nation's return to its culture and glory. Every time they settle in a certain country, they make the same plots against it and use the same methods. It happened in Babylon, Rome, Imperial Russia, and Hitler's Germany. Later, the West banished them to the Arab region, where they continue to serve it [the West] to this day."[10]

Yusri Al-Gindi[11]

In an interview with the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, Al-Gindi said: "In the series, I presented Jewish society during the first years of Islam. What I did that is new [here] is that [I made] the Jews themselves the main protagonists, [and they reflect] Jewish society, which is within itself based on deception, fraud, and hunting [down] the mistakes of others. Therefore, I strove to reveal their traits, their ideas, their methods, and their deviousness, as well as the [deeply] rooted hostility between them and the Arabs since the days of Moses, peace be upon him...

"When you research Jewish society you discover that they made many pacts. When the Messenger, Peace be upon Him, entered Yathrib [Medina], they [the Jews] controlled the economy and therefore did not leave Yathrib but signed a peace agreement [with him]. However, at their earliest opportunity, they... announced a unilateral violation of the agreement, as did the Jews of the Banu Qurayza, Banu Qaynuqa, and Banu Nadir [tribes], as well as the Jews of Khaybar.

"If you take a precise look at current affairs, you will see that the method [of the Jews] has not changed. What is [currently] happening in the Sinai is [also] connected to them, because they have many aspirations, and I can almost determine that they are behind all this. See how they encourage the project of [developing] the Suez Canal so that the Sinai [will be separated] from Egypt;[12] they plot and harm any development project in Egypt; they do not live well in peaceful societies, and even though most of their stories deal with peace, their fingerprints are apparent in every disaster afflicting the Arab and Islamic world. Unfortunately there are those who view them as partners to the land, even though this is not true. They were removed from it due to their actions, but they want to marginalize others so that they can live alone on this land."

Al-Gindi added: "Since I began my artistic path I have been dealing with the Palestinian issue and its pan-Arab aspects. In the past, I put on the plays "The Wandering Jew" and "Oh, Jerusalem," until they called me an antisemite because both deal with the Zionist enterprise, its attacks on the rights of the other, and its fundamental refusal to acknowledge the existence [of the other]. The striking thing is that during my research I noticed that from the days of Moses, the prophet of Allah, to now, the Zionist entity has not changed its method. They rose up against Moses, peace be upon him, and distorted the Torah. The Talmud became the dominant book because the Jewish sages benefited from it, since they do not desire peace on earth. This has been their custom for 3,000 years, and to this day..."[13]

Director Mohamed Aziziya (right) and actor Ahmad Maher (left) on the set[14]

* Y. Yehoshua is Director of Research at MEMRI.


[1] According to Muslim tradition, in 628 CE, Muhammad expelled the two Jewish tribes of Medina – Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir – from the city. Another Jewish tribe, Banu Qurayza, was completely destroyed – all its men were executed and the women, children, and property were distributed as booty among the Muslims. Muhammad also defeated the Jews of Khaybar (including the Jews of Banu Nadir, who settled there after their expulsion from Medina), but allowed them to stay there and continue working their lands on the condition that they give half of their crop yields to the Muslims of Medina. During the time of the second Muslim Caliph, 'Omar ibn Al-Khattab, the Jews were expelled from Khaybar and their lands were divided among the Muslims.

[2] Al-Arab (Qatar), January 1, 2013;, February 14, 2013.

[3], October 5, 2011.

[4] Al-Arab (Qatar), January 1, 2013.

[5] Al-Fajr (Egypt), June 20, 2013.

[6] Al-Wafd (Egypt), April 16, 2013.

[7] Al-Shorouq (Egypt), June 26, 2013.

[8] Dream TV (Egypt), May 13, 2013.

[9] Taken from the YouTube channel of the Egyptian newspaper Akhbar Al-Yawm. March 14, 2013.

[10], July 4, 2013.

[11] Al-Arab (Qatar), January 1, 2013.

[12] Among the opponents to the Suez Canal development project, which was launched by the government of recently deposed president Muhammad Mursi, were some who claimed that the project would separate the Sinai from the rest of Egypt, and that it was part of an Israeli plot to settle Palestinian refugees in the peninsula. See statements by Egyptian Farmers Union head Shahenda Maklad.,, May 12, 2013.

[13] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 1, 2013.

[14], March 8, 2013.

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