May 6, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 708

Saudi Princess Responds to Charges of Antisemitism in Saudi Royal Family

May 6, 2004
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 708

Following the terrorist attack in Yunbu, Saudi Arabia on May 1, 2004, Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah said in a meeting with dignitaries broadcast on Saudi TV that " Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the Kingdom… I am 95% sure of that." [1] Several days later, during an interview in which he was asked for a clarification, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said, " It is not hidden from anyone that extremist Zionist elements are engaging in a vulgar campaign against the kingdom by espousing and disseminating lies and incitement against the Saudi government… The terror operations taking place today serve the interests of the extremist Zionist elements, and this means that they [the perpetrators of the operations and the Zionist elements] share common interests." [2] The Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC also posted the Saudi foreign minister's remarks that Zionists are behind terrorism in Saudi Arabia. [3]

According to media reports, Bush administration officials were "stunned" by Crown Prince Abdallah's comments. On May 5, U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Oberwetter met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal regarding the comments; an American official reports that "it wasn't a particularly productive exchange." [4] In addition, Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), who is the Ranking Member of the House of Representatives' Committee on International Relations, replied on the floor of the House of Representatives: "… What an outrage. What blatant hypocrisy… two and a half years after the September 11 attacks, Saudi Arabia still cannot look in the mirror and face the truth. Its own extremist ideology is corroding Saudi society and exporting the damage to countless others. How ironic that Abdallah accuses Zionism, whatever he intends that word to mean, while the Saudi kingdom inculcates its young with hatred of Christians, Jews, and Western Civilization… I urge Prince Abdallah to retract his sickening and absurd statements, and I call on him to apologize…" Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, also condemned what he referred to as the "outrageous antisemitic comments."

In an article in today's Saudi English language daily Arab News, Saudi Princess Fahda bint Saud responded to an article by MEMRI's Executive Director Steven Stalinsky published on April 21, 2004. The following is Princess Fahda's article, and the article that prompted it: [5]

Saudi Princess Fahda: 'Anti-Saudi Campaign: Enough is Enough'

"Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, has published an article under the title 'The Royal Treatment, Anti-Semitism, that is.'

"He starts his piece with this statement: The Saudi royal family has been on the forefront in espousing an extreme position of hatred toward Jews... which influences the Kingdom's educational system and media and subsequently its foreign policy.

"He proceeds by citing examples of statements and policies of the leaders of this country since its inception which are against Jews and hence anti-Semitic. To be more clear about this issue, certain facts need to be stated. First, the writer of this article must have been in great hurry to publish it, as his references are a collection of pieces of articles taken out of their contexts.

"Secondly, he missed stating that the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made the issue of Palestine a personal commitment. This was an issue which shaped the Kingdom's foreign policy and was raised in the first historical meeting between King Abdul Aziz and U.S. President Roosevelt in 1945, whereby the latter promised to halt emigration of Jews to Palestine and not to endanger the position of Palestinians, a promise which has been broken by all American presidents who followed, but was kept alive by all Saudi kings who came to power after their legendary father. Another promise was taken up by Saudi Arabia in 1946 at the formation of the Arab League in Egypt, whereby Arab states declared that from that day onward the Palestinian question concerned not merely Palestinians but the Arabs as a whole.

"Saudi Arabia has paid a huge price for keeping up this promise internally and externally and the result we are witnessing now: A smear campaign abroad to pressure this country into abandoning its commitment toward the Palestinians.

"A more valid statement is that the people of Saudi Arabia represented by its leaders are indeed anti-Zionists but not antisemites. Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal, who met King Saud in Riyadh in 1955 (, indicated in his article published by Washington Report on Middle East Affairs that anti-Zionism should not be equated with antisemitism, the racist ideology directed against Jews as Jews. Nor should Zionism, the political movement established to reconstitute Jews as a nation, be equated with Judaism. Dr. Lilienthal, who was the second Jew to meet a Saudi king, proceeds by saying: The words 'antisemitism' and 'antisemitic' are, in fact, misnomers. Jews constitute no more than 10 percent of the world Semites. The overwhelming majority of Semites are Arabs. Furthermore, most Jews today could not trace their ancestry back to the holy land and, therefore, are not true Semites at all. Ninety percent of the world's Jews are descended from converts to Judaism, mostly the Khazars in what once was southern USSR. I think Steven Stalinsky is one of them. In fact, it is the Zionists who have been antisemites starting from the holy land of Palestine and ending with a worldwide movement against Muslims and Arabs who form 90 percent of the Semites. The proof of which is his article.

"Besides, Israel and Saudi Arabia do not recognize each other and do not have diplomatic relations. Then how is either state expected to treat the other's citizens?

"At the same time, Jews who happen to be citizens of other countries like the U.S. and work for their governments have always been welcomed by Saudi Arabia, keeping with diplomatic norms.

"As for Interior Minister Prince Naif's statements which Stalinsky quotes in his article, there is no denying that the September 11 attacks have served the interests of the Zionists more than they have any other group's. Can anyone dare deny this fact?

"Concerning Prince Sultan's accusing the Jewish congressmen of being at the forefront of lobbying in the interest of Israel and its perceived enemies, could this assertion be denied? If the pro-Israeli lobby did not influence the U.S. media, then the U.S. could hardly prefer the interests and friendship of a small country like Israel to that of 1.5 billion Muslims. Neither would Israel receive more aid than the rest of the world put together (almost).

"Moreover, Saudi kings can hardly be accused of being antisemites. They can't be against themselves and their people.

"Saudi kings were raised by their father King Abdul Aziz to be experienced regional politicians and to fight injustice wherever it may be. And they are paying a price for this. The stability of this country is being undermined by inimical forces as confirmed by Crown Prince Abdullah after the Yanbu bombings." [6]

'The Saudi Royal Family and the Jews'

On April 21, 2004, Steven Stalinsky wrote the following article about the Saudi royal family and antisemitism:

"Leading members of the Saudi royal family have been on the forefront of espousing an extreme position of hatred toward Jews, influencing the Kingdom's educational system, press, mosques, and its foreign and domestic policy.

"In its first attempt to attract tourists to the country, Saudi Arabia's tourist commission, under the control of Prince Sultan bin Abd Al-Aziz, launched its website in March 2004, which listed those not allowed into the kingdom: 'Israeli passport holders or those whose passport has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp; those who do not abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behavior; those under the influence [of alcohol]; and Jewish people.'

"The Saudi embassy's Washington spokesman, Nail Al-Jubeir, said that he was 'stunned' when he saw the website, while Saudi Ambassador to America Prince Bandar bin Sultan explained that he was 'embarrassed.' According to a press release by the Saudi Embassy, 'The information on the website was not correct and as a consequence the erroneous material was removed.'

"The ambassador's father, Prince Sultan, who serves as secretary general of the Tourism Commission, said in a statement that the controversy was 'blown out of all proportions' by American press seeking to portray the Kingdom as antisemitic. He added: '… It is all part of a smear campaign meant to tarnish Saudi Arabia's image.'

"Prince Sultan, who is also the second deputy prime minister, defense and aviation minister, and inspector general of Saudi Arabia, has been making statements against Jews for years. Following a ceremony at the Saudi Public Institution for Military Industries in June 2002, when asked about American criticism of Saudi Arabia, Prince Sultan replied to the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 'It is enough to see a number of congressmen wearing Jewish yarmulkes to explain the allegations against us.' According to Al-Hayat, which also reported the incident, the minister cut off a journalist, saying: 'Say 'Jewish congressmen.' It is enough that in the pictures you see some congressmen wearing Jewish yarmulkes. That is sufficient.' More recently, the Saudi royal family Web site, Ain-Al-Yaqeen, quoted Prince Sultan discussing American reform initiatives in its March 26 to April 3 issue, explaining that the American press, which is 'under the Jewish influence,' is using the initiative to widen the gap between Arab countries and America.

"Prince Sultan's brother, the Saudi minister of interior, Prince Naif bin Abd Al-Aziz, has also made accusations against the Jews. In what has since become an infamous interview reported in Ain-Al-Yaqeen a year after the September 11 attacks, Prince Naif explained that Arabs were not involved in the attacks, saying, 'We put big question marks and ask who committed the events of September 11 and who benefited from them. Who benefited from events of 9/11? I think they [the Zionists] are behind these events.'

"Saudi kings have also been known to espouse extreme antisemitic opinions. Saudi Princess Fahda bin Saud ibn Abd Al-Aziz, who has been described as 'the daughter of King Saud and the historian of her father's reign,' writes occasionally in the Saudi press on conspiracy theories against the Jews and America. She has written that her father's views on the Jews and the Jewish state still serve as inspiration for the Arab and Muslim world. In one article she authored, she explained that King Saud called the Jewish state a deadly disease which would never be accepted by Arabs: '… King Saud made the right diagnosis: 'The Zionist threat is like cancer — in dealing with it neither medicine nor surgery will do any good.' This royal statement was meant to emphasize that the Arabs do not, and will not, accept an Israeli state amidst them.' The article added that under the leadership of King Saud, the Saudi representative to the United Nations called for the U.N. to establish an agency 'to help resettle Jews [now in Israel] in their former European homes.'

"The late King Faisal was also notorious for making anti-Semitic statements. He told the Egyptian magazine Al-Musawwar in 1972, 'While I was in Paris on a visit, the police discovered five murdered children. Their blood had been drained, and it turned out that some Jews had murdered them in order to take their blood and mix it with the bread they eat on that day.'

"The Saudi royal family's hatred of the Jews is now influencing its next generation. Saudi Prince Amr Muhammad Al-Faisal writes often in the Saudi press articles warning Jews in America that eventually Americans will turn against them. In one article he declared: 'Dear cousins, if you hear a snap in two or three years, it will probably be the sound of the trap shutting on your collective necks. You have been warned.'

"Given that the Saudi royal family controls its country's press, mosques, and textbooks, they are clearly responsible for the hatred of Jews which has become closely associated with the Kingdom."

[1] Saudi 1 Television, May 2, 2004.

[2] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 5, 2004.

[3] Saudi Embassy website,

[4] Newsweek, May 5, 2004.

[5] New York Sun, April 21, 2004; National Review Online, April 28, 2004.

[6] Arab News (Saudi Arabia), May 6, 2004.

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