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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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In Egypt, Just Whack the Jewish Piñata to Become a Star


Photo Credit: Elijah Zarwan/Wikimedia Commons

In a different scene the Egyptian Embassy’s driver tells the fresh Egyptian diplomat: “May God burn them (Israelis) in hell; when Hamas carries out an operation against them, or when Hezbollah fires a couple of rockets my heart will be jumping with joy.”

Throughout the miniseries, Israelis are portrayed as Arab-hating bigots; one scene shows a female Israeli student giving a speech to a large crowd of students at Tel Aviv University, complete with the University’s coat of arms behind her. The Egyptian actress spoke in Hebrew, with Arabic captions, saying Israel did a great job “killing thousands of Arabs in Lebanon and Gaza,” and ended her passionate speech with her and the crowd chanting “Death to the Arabs.” The miniseries does not stop with portraying Israelis as prejudiced against Arabs, but also as prejudiced amongst themselves: In one scene, a Jewish Bank Leumi manager of Iraqi background is shown chastising one of his employee of a European background for missing days at work, telling him “Whom do you Ashkenazim think you are? You think you are a big deal? We Sephardim have held this country on our shoulders.”

The miniseries is a joint project between a private production company and the Production Section at the Egyptian TV, a state-owned and run institution, as confirmed by the Alarab website.

This miniseries is not the first, nor will it be the last, demonization of Jews and Israel in the Arab mass media. Nonetheless, the weight of the Arab star, Adel Imam, is huge, and therefore the miniseries is likely to have a more lasting effect in the minds of the younger generation in post-Mubarak Egypt.

Imam’s act is nothing new. Before him, a lesser known Egyptian actor, Muhammad Sobhi, earned himself great fame when he starred in a miniseries names “A Horseman Without A Horse,” which revolved around an alleged Jewish manual to control the world, better known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

At the time, Western criticism of the miniseries served its star, Muhammad Sobhi. As that contributed to Sobhi’s fame, Adel Imam too might end up with more fame and public acceptance if his new miniseries brings about a Western or a Jewish uproar.

In the Middle East, the oldest publicity trick seems to still work: When you are need of social acceptance – or forgiveness in Imam’s case – just hit the Jewish piñata.

Will Egypt and other Arab Spring nations move forward or will they keep blaming their shortcomings on “the evil Jews”?

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

About the Author: Mudar Zahran is the Secretrary General of the Jordanian Coalition of Opposition, a known Jordanian- Palestinian politician and writer, who now resides in the UK as a political refugee. His writings regularly appear in Arab, Israeli, and American publications.

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