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Israel and Jews on Ramadan Television in the Arab World

During the holy month of Ramadan, which concludes this weekend, it has become de rigueur in Arab countries to air special miniseries, which families watch every evening as they gather to break the daily fast. Edy Cohen comments on three shows this year that portray Jews and the Jewish state, including the anti-Semitic Egyptian science-fiction series The End.

Arab governments have long understood the potential of television and other visual media as a means of transmitting political messages. They actively promote shows that conform to their agendas, such as fostering negative images of political rivals both abroad and at home. Many dramas produced in recent years, especially in Turkey and Egypt, have featured Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist elements for the purpose of demonizing them.

In contrast to the Egyptian-produced show, the other two series, which were produced either directly by Saudi Arabia or with its approval, indicate a positive trend regarding attitudes toward Israel in the Gulf States. Um Haroun (Mother of Aaron), which depicts the lives of Jews in the Gulf region, was seen by many as an effort to promote normalization of relations with Israel.

The third show, Exit 7, is similarly of Saudi origin and is also considered an effort to promote closer ties with Israel. It features the most famous actors in the kingdom. While it deals primarily with social issues, the first episode contains heavy criticism of the Palestinians. One scene shows the main character saying he does business with Israel because Israel is not really an enemy. Hinting at the Palestinians, he says the real enemy is someone who doesn’t appreciate you. This scene is a depiction of the palpable existing tension between Saudis and the Palestinians.

The Palestinians, who oppose normalization with Israel by any segment of the Arab world and consider it deeply threatening to their cause, were enraged to see such scenes aired on Saudi television.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Arab World, Egypt, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Television

The Summary: 10/7/20

Two extraordinary events demonstrate something important about Israel’s most fervent adversaries. One was a speech given at something called The People’s Forum (funded generously by Goldman Sachs), which stated, “When the state of Israel is finally destroyed and erased from history, that will be the single most important blow we can give to destroying capitalism and imperialism.”

The suggestion that this tiny state is the linchpin of a global, centuries-old phenomenon like capitalism goes well beyond anything resembling rational criticism. Even if Israel were guilty of genocide, apartheid, and oppression—which of course it is not—it would not follow that its destruction would help end capitalism or imperialism.

The other was an anti-Israel protest that took place in front of New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, deemed “complicit” in Israel’s evils. At organizers’ urging, participants shouted their slogans at kids in the cancer ward, who were watching from the windows. Given Hamas’s indifference toward the lives of Gazan children, such callousness toward non-Palestinian children from Hamas’s Western allies shouldn’t be surprising. The protest—like the abovementioned speech—deliberately conveyed the message that Israel is the ultimate evil and its destruction the ultimate good, cancer patients be damned.

The fact that Israel’s adversaries are almost comically perverse does not mean that they can be dismissed. If its allies fail to understand the obsessive and irrational hatred that it faces, they cannot effectively help it defend itself.

Read more at Mosaic