New York, NY, August 2, 2012 … Some of the more popular television specials airing across the Muslim and Arab world during the holy month of Ramadan – at a time when television viewership peaks across the Middle East – are "rife with anti-Semitic themes and expressions of hatred for Israel," according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The League, which monitors media in the region for anti-Semitic content, said anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and anti-Israel plot lines have dominated various shows appearing this month on satellite stations with wide viewership across the Middle East.
While anti-Semitism is a common theme in the Muslim and Arab media, there is an upsurge of anti-Semitic programming during Ramadan, when satellite television viewership increases and more people are paying attention to what is being broadcast across the airwaves.
"Ramadan is where the television networks enjoy high viewership numbers and a captive audience, and several networks in the Arab world are once again peddling anti-Semitic content," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While this year is perhaps no different from what we have seen in previous years, it is deeply disturbing to see how anti-Semitism is so casually treated on some of these programs, where conspiracy theories such as those espoused in the notorious forgery, 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' are repeated as if they were fact, and where Israelis are portrayed using the grossest caricatures. "
In a blog published today, ADL pointed to several shows that have included blatantly anti-Semitic content and are appearing throughout the Ramadan fasting period:
- Ashab il-Sabt: This bi-weekly show is aired by Ar-Rahma, a Salafist channel based in Egypt that features an anti-Semitic professor at Tanta University in Egypt. The professor, Dr. Mohammed Jalal Idris, allegedly a specialist in Hebrew literature, uses the show as a podium for propagate conspiracy theories from "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and other hateful theories about Judaism.
- Firqat Naji Attalah: A nightly series, widely aired throughout the Middle East, depicts Israelis in classic anti-Semitic fashion. A Middle East broadcast network, MBC, promoted the show saying it will "surprise the audience with the sweetest jokes about the 'cheap Jew.'" The show revolves around the character of Naji Attalah, a diplomat working in the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv who decides to take revenge on Israel by robbing an Israeli bank." The show routinely jocks Israelis and Jews for their "frugalness" and includes expressions of support for terrorism against Israel.
- Il Hukm Ba'd il Muzawla: This Candid Camera-style show, which airs on the Egypt-based An-Nahar TV, provokes irrational and blatantly anti-Semitic reactions from its guests. Some guests have brutally beaten the staff after they were led to believe the staff members of the show were Jewish.
- Al-Ghalibun: The Hezbollah TV channel Al Manar is broadcasting a new season of last year's successful series – "The Victorious." The series tells the story of the Israeli invasion of South Lebanon and the suffering of the Lebanese people. The narrative is extremely anti-Israel and regularly portrays Israeli commanders as conspiring against the Lebanese leadership and people.
Previously, Ramadan television specials have featured serial dramas in which anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are main element of the plot. The most infamous of these dramas include the 2002 Horseman Without a Horse, which appeared on Egyptian TV in 2002 and Ash-Shatat ("The Diaspora") which was broadcast on Hezbollah's Al-Manar satellite network. Both featured numerous references of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and the blood libel.