Anti-Semitic Backlash to Myth that 'Israeli' was Responsible for Anti-Islam Film

  • September 14, 2012

Mass demonstrations and protests currently taking place in cities across the Middle East and North Africa have included fierce anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish sentiment. The demonstrations, which are mostly taking place outside U.S. Embassies, are allegedly in response to a trailer for an anti-Islam film known as "Innocence of Muslims." The trailer was posted on YouTube in early September.

The reported filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, had initially identified himself as an "Israeli" living in California and claimed that the film received financial backing from "more than 100 Jewish donors." Although that assertion has since been disproven, and it has been revealed that Nakoula is a Coptic Christian, the damage has already been done. Many of the protesters have repeatedly sought to blame Jews and Israel for the production of the film and have injected virulent and violent anti-Semitic language into the protests. In addition, many media outlets across the Middle East, including Al Jazeera, described the filmmaker as a Jew in the days following the protests.

From Gaza to Cairo, Benghazi and Sudan, the protests have been marked by anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish slogans, as well as condemnations of Jews or Israelis for being responsible for the film.


  • Bishop Moussa, a high-profile Egyptian bishop in the Coptic Church, blamed the "Zionists" for the decision by American Copts to insult Islam through the anti-Islam film. The statement said,"This minority is rejected by the honorable Diaspora Copts, and by all the Egyptian Copts!  With such insult to Islam and its messenger, they are trying to incite sectarian sedition in Egypt, to execute an evil Zionist plot."
  • A Coptic news Web site, Copts Today, titled a report about the filmmaker's decision to go into hiding with: "As the Jews always do: Israeli anti-Islam filmmaker hides in fear."
  • Naguib Gibrael, a prominent Coptic leader and the president of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights, was quoted saying that a "Jewish producer" and "international Zionism" were responsible for producing the film. 


  • Palestinians protested, chanting "Death to America, Death to Israel." One protester also held up a sign featuring the Star of David stained with red dye intended to look like blood. The language below the image read, "These are the causes of all Muslim tragedies."
  • In a speech during Friday prayers in Gaza, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, "This [film] came following a Jewish-American "crusader-style" alliance to trigger war on Islam and incite sectarian fight specifically in Egypt."


The Algerian Muslim Brotherhood, known as the Ennahda Movement, officially blamed the "American Jewish lobby" for producing the film. Their statement read, "the Movement strongly condemns this criminal act against the Master of Beings and the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers, and holds as accountable the U.S. authorities and the Jewish lobby which always tries to defame the peaceful message of Islam."


Israeli and American flags were burned during a demonstration against the film.


Protesters outside the U.S. Embassy chanted, "Khaibar, Khaibar ya Yahud, jaysh Muhammad sawfa ya'ud," which translates to "Oh Khaiber, Khaiber, oh you Jews, the army of Muhammad shall return." The slogan evokes an alleged Islamic story of a battle between the prophet Muhammad and the Jews of the town of Khaibar, which resulted in the subjugation of the Jews of Arabia.


Alem Al Youm, a Kuwait-based newspaper, featured an article reporting on the chants in Yemen. The title of the article was: "Storming the American Embassy in Yemen: Oh Khaiber, Khaiber, oh you Jews, the army of Muhammad shall return."

United States

Domestically, anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists also rushed to jump on the news that the filmmaker was an Israeli Jew. Several hours after the mass protests began, the media coordinator for American Muslims for Palestine, Kristin Szremski, posted a message on Facebook that read, "The film was financed by 100 Jews, according to the Israeli. Let this be a lesson to our Muslim organizations that still insist it is in our best interest to work with Zionist organizations." She later wrote, "As we mourn the loss of lives in Libya because of the outrage over a terrible anti-Islam film, we must also call to hold the Israeli filmmaker responsible."

Various comments on anti-Semitic forums have also decried the "wealthy Jews" who financed the film in an effort to "stir up hatred between Muslims and Americans."

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