The Media As Political Instrument:
Delegitimation, Not Normalization
In his 1987 book, Semites and Anti-Semites, the distinguished Middle East
scholar Bernard Lewis notes that in regard to the anti-Semitic press in Arab countries,
"The demonization of Jews goes further than it had ever done in Western literature,
with the exception of Germany during the period of Nazi rule. In most Western countries,
anti-Semitic divagations on Jewish history, religion, and literature are more than offset
by a great body of genuine scholarship.
In modern Arabic writing there are few such
In Egypt, the use of vicious anti-Semitic attacks has become an acceptable and familiar
element of hostility against Israel. Such overt racist attacks have gone unanswered by the
Egyptian intellectual or political leadership. Indeed, the government tolerates and
perhaps even sanctions these attacks.
Lewis asks, "Given the scale on which all these activities are taking place, the
question is no longer whether some Arab governments are pursuing anti-Semitic policies;
the question is, why were these policies adopted, how far have they gone, and how deep is
With regard to Egypt, the answer to the last question is clear: the demonization of
Jews, Judaism and Zionism not only impedes the development of normal Israeli-Egyptian
relations and the rooting of the peace process, but is an affront to Jews in other
countries as well as enlightened people everywhere who oppose racism.
Egypt and Israel have enjoyed many benefits from their 18-year peace. Egypt itself
continues to play a crucial role in facilitating a reconciliation between Israel and
Jordan, the Palestinians and the Gulf states. Yet 20 years after Anwar Sadats
revolutionary visit to Jerusalem, there remains within Egyptian society, on the most basic
level, a deep hostility toward Judaism, Jews and Israel. Until these deep-rooted
anti-Semitic images and perceptions are corrected, there is little hope that Israel and
Egypt will move beyond their "cold peace," toward a reconciliation which is
accepted and encouraged by Egyptian society.
End of Report