I don’t buy Jeffrey Goldberg (mostly ‘Not at all’) - and I really don’t think much of Walter Russell Mead. Thus the cheap introduction part is not quoted in.
My experience has been that antisemitism (personal or political etc) can exist at anywhere anytime. it’s a strong, potent and ubiquitous ‘meme’ - we haven’t - we never have come to deal with necessary amount of seriousness.
It’s not particular thing to Egypt, or poor, or ‘backward’ human groups, or Middle East or anything. It’s like very common mold spore - just need a bit of humidity and it says ‘Hi’.
And problem is we don’t have effective counter-meme, vaccination (preventive etc) - developed. We’ve been barely serious about it - likewise with most of the racism we humans carry.
Problem really - to me - is that we decided to cover this problem with shallow denial, shallow behavioral solutions. Facade. Facile. Just say, just say it (the spore) is not on me, or not on you, not on anyone -
Well. That’s not true at all.
We need the new real way to talk about it, new courage and really strong psychology to talk through about this ‘collective’ virus or meme - and work on to build the measures to deal with, repair this problem.
But then, as same with the case of most of the racism - the actual society really cannot - yet to - accept those real measures to counter these viruses (racisms). Our societies are mostly far from such points.
And that limit - even clouds the eyes we have, the way we talk about, the way we can think about the problem. (But then, the most crushing part of this problem is the goodness, the courage, the creativity we all internally, potentially have is so enormous, but they never can be unleashed on the problem of races, racism - anti-semitism included.)
And it’s been that way, probably way too long.
Egyptian television is filled with such sociology. One popular series depicts an Egyptian diplomat stationed in Tel Aviv who robs Israeli banks on the side. The show was promoted by a Middle East satellite channel, which claimed that it would “surprise the audience with the sweetest jokes about the cheap Jew.”
A television show called “Il Hukm Ba’d il Muzawla,” a kind of “Candid Camera” knockoff, provides further evidence that Judeophobia in Egypt has become pathological. The show lures celebrities into an interview under the pretense that it will air on a foreign television station, and then tries to discomfit them by claiming they’re actually being interviewed for an Israeli show.
Recently, the show targeted actor Ayman Kandeel. The episode didn’t proceed as smoothly as planned. According to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the interviewer, an Egyptian woman named Iman Mubarak, surprises Kandeel by admitting that he’s appearing on Israeli television, and not German, as he was promised. A producer named Amr Alaa appears on set and asks Kandeel if there’s a problem.
Kandeel responds, “May I ask who you are?” Alaa, who is Arab, answers, “I am an Israeli.” More words are exchanged, and then Alaa says: “This is my channel. I am never afraid. It is you who are afraid, and that is why you are carrying a gun.”
“I don’t have a gun,” Kandeel responds. “To use my gun against you, I need to feel that you are worth something. But let me tell you what I can do. You stand right here. Relax.”
Kandeel then attacks Alaa, slapping him and shoving him, throwing chairs and cursing. He wheels on Mubarak, slaps her — knocking her against a wall — and curses her. A staff member runs onto the set: “Ayman, please, it’s a prank. Shame on you for hitting a woman.”
Kandeel is given Mubarak’s identification card, to prove that she isn’t Israeli. Finally, he says, “She’s Egyptian?”
“You hit me so hard,” Mubarak says.
Kandeel: “It was just one slap.” The audience applauds. Then he makes her an offer: “After the show, come to my car with me. I’ll put some lotion on your back.”
‘Long Live Egypt’
The next guest, the actress Mayer al-Beblawi, unburdens herself of an anti-Semitic tirade before being told the show is an Israeli production. The Israelis, she begins, “are real liars. They keep whining all the time about the Holocaust, or whatever it’s called. With all the Palestinians that you have killed, you are still whining about the Holocaust and its lousy figures?” She goes on: “They are the slayers of the prophets, what else can we say about them.”
The host, Mubarak, then provokes her: “You’ve got it wrong. They are the Chosen People.” Al-Beblawi responds: “The Chosen People? Allah did not curse the worm and the moth as much as he cursed the Jews.”
Al-Beblawi didn’t resort to violence. But the next guest, Mahmoud Abd al-Ghaffar, did, screaming at Mubarak, “You are a Jew!” and then pulling Alaa by the hair. Mubarak shouts: “Mahmoud, this is a ‘Candid Camera’ show. We are all Egyptians. Long live Egypt!”
Al Ghaffar says, “You brought me someone who looks like a Jew,” and then hugs Alaa. He turns to Mubarak: “If you weren’t a girl, the moment you told me you were Jewish … I hate the Jews to death.”
Mubarak then makes a statement that captures almost perfectly the moral perversion of the prank: “I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed today’s episode with Mahmoud. I didn’t know that there could be such patriotism, but it exists in every Egyptian who breathes the air of this country.”
In a column published last week, the Washington Post’s Colbert King correctly indicted the leadership of Iran as sponsors of “the most virulent form of state-sanctioned anti- Semitism since Nazi Germany.” It is true that the Iranian leadership is wildly anti-Semitic, but, on my visits to Iran, I’ve never personally felt the hatred of Jews on the popular level.
Not so in Egypt, where the virus has spread widely. As we just saw in the Sinai region, where militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers and tried to storm across the Israeli border on Aug. 5, Egypt has serious problems, and they don’t have much to do with “cheap Jews.”
Any country in which anti-Semitism is considered a form of patriotism is in dire trouble.
(Jeffrey Goldberg is a Bloomberg View columnist and a national correspondent for the Atlantic. The opinions expressed are his own.)