Sunday, April 17, 2016

  • Sunday, April 17, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon

The annual State Department report on human rights worldwide underplays the amount of antisemitism in the Arab world, but it does include some examples:

The country’s Jewish community is tiny and dwindling. Criticism of Israel frequently reached the level of blatant anti-Semitism in public discourse. State-owned and private media used anti-Semitic rhetoric, including by academics, cultural figures, and clerics, with cartoons demonizing Jews. There were multiple reports of imams using anti-Semitic rhetoric in their sermons. Societal anti-Semitism was widespread. On March 5, teenagers shouting epithets desecrated graves at the Basateen Jewish cemetery in the south of Cairo.

For the fifth consecutive year, authorities cancelled the Abu Hassira celebrations scheduled for January, preventing an annual Jewish pilgrimage, including many Israelis, to the shrine of 19th-century scholar Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hassira. The cancellation followed a December 2014 administrative court decision to ban the festival permanently, stating the festival was a “violation of public order and morals” and “incompatible with the solemnity and purity of religious sites.”

An appeal continued in the 2014 case of 37 Islamists sentenced to death and 492 others to life imprisonment whom a Minya criminal court described as “demons” who followed Jewish scripture. The court also described the men as “enemies of the nation” who used mosques to promote the teachings of “their holy book, the Talmud.”
Aside from foreigners, there was no resident Jewish community in the country. Anti-Semitism was present in the media. Editorial cartoons, articles, and opinion pieces sometimes negatively depicted Jews without government response. The national school curriculum, including materials on tolerance education, did not include mention of the Holocaust.

On November 17, Ro’ya, a private television station hosted a journalist drawing an editorial cartoon showing an anti-Semitic stereotype and stating that Jews were the “mother of terrorism.”
Jewish leaders reported that the Jewish community faced unofficial, religion-based obstacles to government employment and administrative difficulties when working with government bureaucracy.
In August opponents of the Minister of National Education and her proposal to teach primary schools in the local dialect instead of Arabic resulted in social media smear campaigns accusing her of having Jewish heritage.
On October 16, the presidential chief of staff and secretary general of the National Democratic Rally political party, Ahmed Ouyahia, accused Ferhat Mehenni, singer and leader of the Kabyle Independence Movement, of “selling Algeria to the Jews.”
In October several young Algerians published an online video entitled “Jews in the Streets of Algeria: What Will Happen?” The video depicted a young man wearing a kippah, pretending to be Jewish, and the numerous insults and harassment he received by people on the street of Algiers. The makers of the video concluded what they called a “social experiment” by stating, “Algerians do not want to smell the odor of Jews in their country.” Within a week the anti-Semitic video received more than 100,000 views, more than 1,000 likes, and several hundred dislikes.
There were no known Jewish citizens and an estimated few dozen Jewish foreign resident workers. Negative commentary regarding Jews regularly appeared in the media. Anti-Semitic rhetoric often originated from self-proclaimed Islamists or conservative opinion writers. These columnists often conflated Israeli government actions with those of Jews more broadly. Reflecting the government’s nonrecognition of Israel, there are longstanding official instructions to teachers to expunge from English-language textbooks any references to Israel or the Holocaust. The law prohibits companies from conducting business with Israeli citizens, including transporting them on their commercial airlines.
Saudi Arabia:
Cases of government-employed imams using anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, or anti-Shia language in their sermons were rare and occurred without authorization by government authorities. The law requires government-employed imams to give all sermons delivered in mosques in the country. They must deliver sermons vetted and cleared by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. During the year the ministry issued periodic circulars to clerics and imams in mosques directing them to include messages on the principles of justice, equality, and tolerance and to encourage rejection of bigotry and all forms of racial discrimination in their sermons. According to the ministry, no imams publicly espoused intolerant views warranting dismissal during the year. Unauthorized imams continued to employ intolerant views in their sermons.
There were reports of anti-Semitic materials available at government-sponsored book fairs.
The government’s multi-year Tatweer project to revise textbooks, curricula, and teaching methods to promote tolerance and remove content disparaging religions other than Islam began in 2007. As of the end of 2013, the program had received more than 11 billion riyals ($2.9 billion) to revise the curriculum. As of the end of 2013, the government had also developed new curricula and textbooks for at least grades four through 10. Despite these efforts, some intolerant material remained in textbooks used in schools.
Editorial cartoons exhibited anti-Semitism characterized by stereotypical images of Jews along with Jewish symbols, particularly at times of heightened political tension with Israel. Anti-Semitic comments by journalists, academics, and clerics appeared in the media.
The country does not have an indigenous Jewish community. On occasion some of the privately owned Arabic-language newspapers carried cartoons with offensive caricatures of Jews and Jewish symbols. These occurred primarily in the daily newspapers al-Watan, al-Sharq, al-Arab, and al-Raya and drew no government response. In February a Saudi imam who had regularly lectured in Qatar delivered an anti-Semitic sermon from the Grand Mosque. Following the incident, authorities denied the imam future engagements.
An estimated 1,500 Jews live in the country. In March in Tunis, vandals destroyed the grave of 18th century Jewish sage Rabbi Masseoud Elfassi. Media reported that motives for the vandalism were unknown but speculated it was the work of looters. After the incident, President Essebsi increased security around the cemetery and other Jewish sites, and promised a European rabbinical body he would firmly protect the Jewish community and its institutions.

Fewer than 150 Jews remained in the country, residing in two communities in Sana’a and Amran Governorate. Weak law enforcement put the Jewish community at risk, particularly following the Houthi takeover in Sana’a in September 2014, after which anti-Israeli rhetoric increased and blurred into anti-Semitic utterances. Prior to the outbreak of conflict, the transitional government continued to protect the Sa’ada Jewish community in Sana’a and provided secure housing and a living stipend. See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at
Anti-Semitic material was rare. Many Yemenis were proud to sustain a small Jewish community with some charities reportedly donating food and gifts during Jewish holidays, and media coverage of the country’s Jews was generally positive. The most prominent exception was the slogan of the Houthi movement, “Death to Israel, a curse on the Jews.”
Members of the Jewish community are not eligible to serve in the military or federal government. Authorities forbid them from carrying the ceremonial Yemeni dagger.
Essentially no antisemitism was reported in Lebanon, Bahrain, the UAE and Morocco.

In other Muslim countries:

Estimates of the country’s Jewish population were between 100 and 200 persons. Anti-Semitism was a serious problem across the political spectrum and attracted wide support among segments of the population. Government-owned newspapers and statements by current and former political officeholders sometimes blamed civil society activity on “Jewish plots” or “Jewish conspiracies.”
In June a member of the cabinet and secretary-general of UMNO claimed an online independent news outlet was part of a Jewish conspiracy against his party.

Jewish residents continued to leave the country permanently because of anti-Semitism. According to the chief rabbinate in Istanbul, the number of Jews in the country dropped to 17,000 during the year, from 19,500 in 2005.
Incidents of anti-Semitism were common. Media and elected officials regularly spoke out against Israel and generalized their statements toward Jews more broadly. For example, a “documentary” film, Mastermind, that was broadcast repeatedly on a progovernment television station in March and was posted on progovernment websites, alleged the greatest threat to the Turkish nation was 3,500 years of Jewish world domination.
Despite anti-Semitic comments by some leaders and media and incidents of vandalism against the Jewish community, the government took a number of positive steps during the year. The country has commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27) since 2011. On March 26, the government’s five-year restoration of the Great Synagogue of Edirne concluded, and the synagogue was reopened.

There is a very small Jewish population in Pakistan. Anti-Semitic sentiments were widespread in the vernacular press. Hate speech broadcast by traditional media and through social media derogatorily used terms such as “Jewish agent” and “Yahoodi” to attack individuals and groups.

According to the Tehran Jewish Committee, approximately 9,000 Jews lived in the country, while media estimated there were between 18,000 and 20,000. The law recognizes Jews as a religious minority and provides representation in parliament. Samiak Moreh Sedgh is the only Jewish member of parliament.
Officials continued to question the history and uniqueness of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism remained a pervasive problem. A cultural institute organized a second international Holocaust cartoon contest in May (authorities held the first in 2005). The supreme leader issued a statement in September in which he questioned whether Israel would exist in 25 years.
There was no mention of Palestinian antisemitism at all.* The report, which put Israel and the territories together, merely said "The government often defined crimes targeting Jews as nationalistic crimes relating to the overall Palestinian-Israeli conflict rather than anti-Semitism."

*CORRECTION: There was a separate section on Palestinians:
Rhetoric by some Palestinians and Muslim religious leaders included expressions of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Anti-Israel sentiment was widespread and sometimes crossed the line into anti-Semitism in public discourse, including media commentary longing for a world without Israel and glorifying terror attacks on Israelis. Following a string of attacks by Palestinians on Israelis in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israel, Palestinian press and social media widely circulated cartoons encouraging such attacks.

At times the PA failed to condemn incidents of anti-Semitic expression in official PA traditional and social media outlets.

In the Gaza Strip and West Bank there were instances in which media outlets, particularly outlets controlled by Hamas, published and broadcast material that included anti-Semitic content, sometimes amounting to incitement to violence.

(h/t Solomon2)

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