New York, NY, August 24, 2004 … With the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, newspapers in the Arab world have increasingly focused attention on the U.S. presidential campaign and the candidates. While this attention has incurred legitimate news coverage, it has also brought with it a "darker underbelly of hatred and anti-Semitism," according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Mainstream newspapers in U.S.-allied nations like Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain routinely portray the U.S. government and political process as being controlled and manipulated by all-powerful Jews and Israel. This anti-Semitic conspiracy theory gathered force during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, and is expected to resurface during the Republican National Convention.
"While the Arab press does give some legitimate coverage of the U.S. elections, it often goes hand-in-hand with a darker underbelly of hatred and anti-Semitism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and author of Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism.
"The elections have already prompted a number of highly incendiary and anti-Semitic images from the Arab media," said Mr. Foxman. "Newspaper cartoonists in these countries have given renewed life to conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the American political process."
ADL, which monitors and exposes anti-Semitism in the Arab press, is compiling election-related anti-Semitic images in an updated, online report. Among the cartoons that appeared during the Democratic convention:
- A stereotypic Jew controlling the U.S. Congress by remote control, Al-Ittihad, United Arab Emirates, (July 31, 2004).
- President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry share a large, black hat with a Jewish star, Akhbar al-Khalij, Bahrain, (July 30, 2004).
- The black hats and coats of Orthodox Jews are shown hanging outside of the door to the "Democratic Convention," Arab News, Saudi Arabia, (July 27, 2004).
"With the campaign season now in full swing, hateful conspiracy theories about Jewish control of America are being taken to another level in the Arab press," said Mr. Foxman. "In articles and cartoons the Democratic and Republican parties, the candidates and government are shown as handmaidens of Jews and Israel. This is extremely dangerous in a region where U.S. troops are stationed, where public opinion is already strongly anti-America and anti-Israel, and where the U.S. has made a priority of promoting Western values of democracy and freedom.
"In order for these conspiracy theories to be checked, there needs to be clear condemnation of anti-Semitism from leaders in the Arab world," Mr. Foxman added.
The most shocking editorial cartoons parry accusations of a Jewish or Israeli conspiracy to control the U.S. democratic process. One dominant theme is the notion that America's elections and Democratic system are controlled behind the scenes by a manipulative Jewish lobby and the Israeli government. Others suggest that both candidates are the handmaidens of Jews, especially when it comes to matters of foreign policy toward Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.