The first episodes of “Haret El Yahood” [The Jewish Quarter], a new Egyptian TV series that started airing last week on many satellite channels in the Arab world, reinforce common anti-Semitic narratives despite some expectations that it would depart from the usual anti-Semitic canards typically found in Arab media.
The show, which presents the Jewish community in Egypt in the 40s through a love story between a Jewish girl and a Muslim Egyptian army officer, attempts to present the difference between “good” Jews and “bad” Jews; the good Jews are the ones who are loyal to Egypt and support its war against Israel while Zionist Jews, who are loyal to Israel, are depicted as wicked, liars, evil and trying to betray Egypt. Midhat Al-adl, who wrote the script for the show, told Al Jazeera that the show “condemns Israeli Zionism and racism.”
The first scene of the first episode features an Egyptian family running to seek shelter inside the Jewish synagogue in Cairo during an Israeli air strike. A conversation between the father of the family and a young neighborhood girl sets the tone for the rest of the show. The Jewish man by the name of Aaron says, “More airstrikes and more of turn off the lights, we were relieved Hitler was gone and his days were over.” The girl then responds, “The problem is, uncle Aaron, the same ones whom Hitler killed and expelled are the ones killing and uprooting the Palestinians.”
The show’s main character, a Jewish girl by the name of Layla, falls in love with a Muslim Egyptian army officer who is fighting in the war against Israel. Layla is featured as an example of a good Jew who stands against Israel unlike her brother, Moses, who is depicted as an ardent Zionist conspiring against his country and family.
The show also appears to propagate the conspiracy theory that Zionist Jews were allied with the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in Egypt since 1948. A scene in the first episode shows a Jewish man instructing a Muslim Brotherhood leader at one of their camps. Subsequent episodes suggest that events leading to the massive immigration of Jews from Egypt to Israel were part of a Zionist-Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy. For example, an explosion planned by the Muslim Brotherhood at the Jewish quarter is portrayed as benefiting Zionist Jews because it triggered fear among Egyptian Jews and compelled them to consider immigrating to Israel.
Haret El Yahood, which received huge publicity across the Arab world, is currently aired on several satellite TV stations across the Arab World including CBC, Dubai TV, Dream and MBC. Ramadan with Google, a page dedicated by Google for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, featured the show on its landing page.