The Bush administration and Jewish leaders are pressing the Egyptian government not to air an anti-Semitic television miniseries.
The 40-part series “Horseman Without a Horse,” which is scheduled to air beginning this week on both a private television station and government-owned Egyptian Television, is based in part on the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Written a century ago, the book describes an alleged Jewish plan for world domination and has been a staple of anti- Semitic incitement for more than a century.
On Monday, U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, urging him to condemn the television program. Signed by 46 representatives, the letter says it’s “shocking” that Egypt’s government has approved the series for state-funded television.
Also on Monday, about 100 people protested the TV show in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Washington.
“Propagation of this type of hate has many effects,” said Paul Marshall of the Center for Religious Freedom. “It promotes lies about Jews and promotes the attacks, assaults and killings of Jews.”
The series is to run each night during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when viewership is especially high.
“The indoctrination of Egyptian citizens to hostility, bigotry and prejudice against Jews will only exacerbate tensions further and make cooperation between our governments more difficult,” the lawmakers’ letter continued. “The broadcast could also cause serious reverberations with the distribution of its virulent anti-Semitic message via satellite to the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.”
Egypt is the largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, receiving some $2 billion a year.
State Department officials, including U.S. ambassador to Egypt David Welch, have urged Egyptian leaders to review the miniseries and make sure that anti-Semitic rhetoric is removed.
“Egyptian officials say they have reviewed the mini-series to ensure the absence of anti-Semitic material,” department spokesman Richard Boucher said. “We are following this issue closely, and will continue to remain engaged with Egyptian officials.”
One State Department official said the Bush administration will take Egyptian officials “at their word.” There are no plans to reassess the U.S.-Egyptian relationship at this time, the official said, but that could change if the program airs.
The State Department expressed disappointment with Egypt this summer for the conviction of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian democracy advocate who holds American citizenship and was sentenced to seven years in prison for embezzlement in what many saw as a politically-motivated trial.
The State Department said it would withhold additional aid to Egypt because of the trial.
At Monday’s hour-long protest, speakers and participants said they were concerned that anti-Semitic rhetoric is still coming from a country that has signed a peace treaty with Israel.
“All of these Egyptian actions are clear violations of the Camp David accords,” said Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, of Congregation B’nai Tzedek of Potomac, Md.
Most participants received e-mails about the protest from its sponsors, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
To Mark Nadel, a Washington resident, the solution to violence in the Middle East “involves understanding on both sides.”
“If you teach that the other side is evil, it promotes more hatred,” he said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.