Caricatures: Der Stürmer on the Nile
Of the many forms of anti-Semitic expressions in the Egyptian media, the most sinister
and dangerous is the use of caricatures depicting Jews in classical stereotypes. These
cartoons, often boldly displayed on newsstands, can inflame passions in a country where
illiteracy is significant and where young people may not read the newspapers, but obtain a
clear and distorted impression of Jews from the illustrations.
Such anti-Semitic caricatures in the Arab press invoke stereotypes of the Jew as
wicked, dangerous and cunning. They not only reflect some Arab attitudes toward Jews, but
they also have the capacity to incite hatred against their Jewish neighbors. The purpose
is not only to vilify the Jew, it is also to remove any credibility to Israels
intention to live in peace with its neighbors.
The characterization of Israelis and other Jews in the Egyptian press owes more to the
20th-century images in the Nazi propaganda organ Der Stürmer than any other
source. The most common depiction is the stooped, bearded man wearing a black robe and
with a long, crooked nose the same distorted stereotype of a European Jew used by
the Nazis and later found in Communist Russia.
During times of political tensions between Israel and Egypt the caricatures are at
their most malicious. For instance, the Jew-as-Nazi theme predominated in the spring of
1996 when Israel moved into Lebanon following repeated Hezbollah rocket attacks across
Israels northern border. At that time, AI-Goumhuriyya showed a cartoon of
Hitler shaking Shimon Peress hand amid burning buildings with the ground scattered
with skulls. Hitler says to Peres, "I made a mistake by not apprising the importance
of American support."(cartoon example)
When allegations surfaced in mid-1995 that Israeli troops had killed Egyptian
prisoners of war in 1956, Al-Ahram ran a caricature of an Israeli soldier, carrying
a flag transformed from the Star of David into a swastika and gunning down unarmed
Egyptians. In Al-Goumhuriyya, August 1995, Hitler
says to retired Israeli General Ariel Sharon as both stand on bones and skulls,
"My son, this is a crime that even I didnt dare to commit."
An October 1995 cartoon in the opposition Ros al-Yusuf presents an Israeli
soldier, with a swastika overhead, a bloody knife in hand and the dates 1956 and 1967. The
soldier holds up a mask of a smiling face of the new Israeli ambassador to Cairo. (cartoon example)
The threat of Jewish-Israeli economic domination is a common theme. (see
"Conspiracy Theories") During the Cairo Economic Summit in November 1996,
readers of Egypts major newspapers were treated to caricatures of a hooknosed, bent,
black-clad man entering the Summit with a suitcase labeled "domination plots."
The summit hall itself was depicted in the shape of a Star of David.
Accusations of Jewish-Israeli domination of the United States are also constant. (cartoon example) In
February 1993 Al-Goumhuriyya showed the stereotypical short, bearded, hooknosed Jew
telling U.S. President Bill Clinton, "We dont want to bother you each time, so
why dont you give us the [U.N.] veto and well use it whenever we need
to!" A December 1994 cartoon in AI-Ahram depicts the
stereotypical Jew crossing a gulf between occupied and unoccupied land via a bridge made
of an American dollar. A May 1995 cartoon in Ros al-Yusuf shows
a hooknosed, bearded man running away with Jerusalem, as the United States and other Arab
nations look on benignly.
Next: Conspiracy Theories