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Antisemitism and sexism still rife in Arab media

Feb 29, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

Antisemitism and sexism still rife in Arab media
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The Middle East Media Research Institute or MEMRI is an organisation that combs the media in the Middle East and translates interesting items into English. Unfortunately, MEMRI’s research consistently exposes the extreme hatred that is fed to peoples throughout the Middle East through their state-controlled media outlets.

For example, MEMRI released a translation of an article responding to Western reports on Saudi textbooks late last year. An example of these reports comes from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Barbaric textbooks handed out in Saudi Arabian schools teach children how to cut off a thief’s hands and feet under Sharia law, it has emerged.

The shocking books, paid for and printed by the Saudi government, also tell teenagers that Jews need to be exterminated and homosexuals should be ‘put to death’.

In response, Saudi columnist Dr. Umayma Jalahm, published in the daily Al-Riyadh, argues that the Western media is overlooking the fact that Jews hate Christians and is wrongfully abandoning its own tradition of Jew-hatred.

The Old Testament, which is holy to both the Jews and the Christians, says in I Samuel: ‘Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ …   I cannot understand why these [Western] media did not dwell on what Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism, wrote in his 16th century book On the Jews and Their Lies, which says that the Jews are ‘a nation of deaf, heretical, arrogant, crafty, and abominable people.’ He wanted them to be humiliated and even tortured in Hell…

The arguments made in defence of Saudi women are equally perverse (emphasis added):

“How does the Western media explain [the fact that] it claims to respect women, yet at the same time it insists on exploiting them by paying them less than men who have the same skills and do the same work, or even less work? If we ask them about this exploitative policy, or why they ignore what is said about the Jews’ stance vis-à-vis the Christian faith and believers, or about the stance of the [Jewish] scholars vis-à-vis women, they will have no answer to give. They would be better off focusing on their own problems and seeking to resolve them, instead of occupying themselves with the domestic issues of other countries…”

So Western countries, where there are laws in place for equal treatment of female employees, exploit women; as opposed to Saudi Arabia, where, as revealed by the Jerusalem Post, women are not even permitted to do most jobs that men perform.

By problems, Maha points to the inevitable laundry list of expectations Saudi society places on her, including the type of job she can have. Like many young Saudi women on scholarships to Western universities, Maha accepted in advance a teaching job in a rural area after completing her studies.

“I’ll be teaching village kids and my colleagues will be village women who have never left the province. And the only jobs available are teaching. I don’t necessarily want to be a teacher, but that is all that is available,” Maha says. “My father is dead, so my brother will be my guardian. I will answer to him for everything and he’s already hinted he expects some of my salary and he will find me a husband.”

However, as Or Avi-Guy pointed out in a post yesterday, there are some courageous Arab liberals taking on the sort of antisemitism which is so pervasive in regional media. A good article lampooning the absurdity of the antisemitic tropes that constantly appear in Arab media – this time, alleged Jewish control of the media –  comes from Khalil ‘Ali Haidar Kuwaiti, writing in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan and also translated by MEMRI.

“Israel and the Jews are often accused of controlling global press, television, and all media. However, [we must ask]: How many Israeli TV stations, or TV stations that [are controlled] by Jews, [target the audience of] the addicted Arab viewers? Who controls the satellites, the channels, and the broadcasts?…

… “Watching TV and [reading] print media in the region, [one might ask] how many of them serve Israel, praise the role of the Jews, or lean towards Zionism? Who among us knows a famous anchor or reporter from the Jewish Israeli media sector? How many prominent Israeli singers and dancers exist [to back the claim that] ‘Jews are behind perversion, weakening, softness, corruption, and immorality’; or that they are the ones who market these goods in an attempt to destroy the Arab and Muslim youth, and to realize the plots envisioned by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, etc…

“Why don’t the Israelis devote themselves to media and to TV broadcasts in order to ‘improve their image in the media,’ while we spend millions doing it? And while we are at it, [we must ask] why we don’t even hear about the existence of the Israeli radio station Voice of Israel, which broadcasted to the Arab world for many years?…”

Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

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