Anti-Semitism in Arab Media Fuels Incitement and Terrorism, ADL Tells House Foreign Affairs Committee
New York, NY, January 22, 2008 … Calling the widespread anti-Semitism in the Arab press "an affront to democracy and human rights," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged members of Congress to raise the issue at every opportunity, and at every level of diplomacy.
"The United States must make clear to Arab leaders that their silence in the face of anti-Semitism in their media makes them complicit in this perpetuation of incitement," said Kenneth Jacobson, ADL Deputy National Director, in testimony on Capitol Hill to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
"Incitement can have dangerous consequences," said Mr. Jacobson, a leading expert on the history and current manifestations of anti-Semitism. "When Jews and Israelis are demonized, it takes no great leap of the imagination to see why public support for or rationalization of terrorism against Jews and Israelis is so prevalent. We have also seen that where Jews are scapegoated and demonized, incendiary anti-American rhetoric flourishes as well, inviting extremists to step in with violent action."
ADL documents and exposes the widespread use of anti-Semitic caricatures and themes in the media in the Arab and Muslim world and disseminates reports on the subject. As part of its testimony to the House Subcommittee, the League submitted dozens of recent examples of virulently anti-Semitic caricatures and editorial cartoons appearing in newspapers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestinian Authority, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Jordan and elsewhere.
For many years League analysts found the Egyptian press to be a leading propagator of anti-Semitic images. But more recently, though anti-Semitic depictions continue to be featured in Egyptian opinion pages, other newspapers in the region -- particularly in the Gulf States -- have featured the most heinous images of Jews, according to ADL's testimony.
"The Gulf states are more removed from day-to-day developments in the Mideast conflict, and their depictions of Jews relate more generally to classical anti-Semitic canards and stereotypes," said Mr. Jacobson. "In Bahrain, the papers demonize the Jew, using images of a devil seeking control over the world and creating conflict between nations. In Oman and Qatar, Jews are portrayed as the embodiment of evil in their facial expressions, in traditional Jewish garb, with big noses and marked with the Star of David."
Noting that anti-Semitic incitement "can create an environment conducive to, and accepting of terrorism," ADL offered recommendations to the Subcommittee that could help to put an end to the demonizing and scapegoating of Jews and Israel in the Arab press:
• Tell Arab leaders: Silence is complicity. Members of Congress, the Secretary of State and the President should urge heads of state and government ministers to condemn the use of anti-Semitic images in the media.
• The U.S. should follow up on the Annapolis Statement of Principles on confronting incitement and make it a fixture of negotiations. A failure to focus on this issue will be an impediment to lasting Arab-Israeli reconciliation.
• Embassies must follow up on human rights reporting. Ministries of communication and leaders at the highest level of governments should be reminded that U.S. diplomats are serious about monitoring anti-Semitic incitement as a key human rights issue.
• Build capacity of U.S. diplomats to recognize and counter anti-Semitic incitement in the media. In order to bolster the consistency of reporting on this sometimes complex phenomenon, the State Department's Foreign Service Institute should include core training on anti-Semitism to help human rights officers and all diplomats to easily recognize and counter the nuanced and mutating forms of anti-Semitism.
• The U.S. should promote peace education in the Arab world as part of democracy-building efforts.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.