The anti-Semitism of the Arab news media is a well-documented phenomenon. Less well known in the West is the extreme hatred of Jews that saturates much of the Arab entertainment world. Consider the Egyptian film, “A Girl from Israel” (“Fataah Min Israeel” in Arabic), which was shown earlier this month on Arab television. Featuring a cast of Egyptian movie stars, it is one of the vilest and most hateful examples of Arab anti-Semitic propaganda I have ever seen.
A jumble of anti-Semitic tropes, the film revolves around a conspiratorial plotline: A Jewish family vacationing in the Sinai hides the fact that they are Israeli, while at the same time conspiring against Egyptians. Each of the family members plays their respective sinister role. Thus, the sexually promiscuous daughter seduces “good” Egyptian young men, while the son rapes the fiancé of an Egyptian. The father, who is made to look like a pimp, works to further Israel’s interests.
Opposite the Israeli family is an Egyptian family. Where the Jewish family is constantly scheming against Egyptians, the devout Egyptian family represents all that is good. The Egyptian father and mother are conservative Muslims trying to protect their children from the immoral Jews, who, they claim, are “all liars, untrustworthy and [who] infiltrate good Egyptian families to cause divisions and friction.”
The theme that the Israelis are evil foreigners who do not belong recurs throughout. The Egyptian parents constantly refer to the Sinai as “our land,” and the mere presence of Israelis in Egypt, even as tourists, is portrayed as a form of invasion or occupation. When one of the Egyptian girls discovers that her Egyptian boyfriend has befriended the Israeli young man, she confronts the latter. “Are you Israeli?” she demands. When he answers that he is, she shoves him, telling him to “get lost.” Similarly, the Egyptian mother and father slap their adult children in the face for making friends with Jews. When an Egyptian businessman attempts to do business with the Israeli father, the outraged Muslim mother voices her disapproval. Business with Jews, she says, is “treason.”
The Muslim father is particularly disgusted by the Israelis. In the film’s most dramatic scene, for instance, the Egyptian family discovers the true origins of the Israelis. As scary, “Jaws”-like theme music plays, the Egyptian father washes his hands in the bathroom. Previously, he had shaken hands with one of the Israelis, and now imagines they are dripping with blood. On another occasion, the Egyptian father confronts his Israeli counterpart. “Jews have no honor, are sexually permissive, distrustful, conspirators and want to control us,” he says.
In keeping with the film’s theme that Jews are not to be trusted, the Israeli father is shown trying to shake hands with Egyptians, while talking about peace and the normalization of relations. The Egyptians, however, regard him with utter disgust, rejecting his extended hand. In this way, the Israeli father is understood to be insincere in his quest for peace. In a final act of Jewish treachery, the film ends with the killing of the Egyptian young man, the only character to befriend Jews, at the hands of his Israeli friend! The message of the movie could not be clearer: Those who befriend and trust Jews end up getting killed by their Jewish friends.
Tasteless as such anti-Jewish propaganda is, it cannot be dismissed as insignificant. With even Israeli tourists portrayed as enemies of Arabs and Muslims, it is no wonder that terrorist attacks target Israeli visitors in the Sinai, and that Arab anti-Semitism, aided by today’s technology, is rapidly spreading. Equally worrisome is that such anti-Semitic fare is now offered, through Arab satellite channels, right here in America.
Many laughed at the hilarious movie “Borat,” which portrays the outrageous exploits of a fictional anti-Semite from Kazakhstan. But, as “A Girl from Israel” reminds us, real anti-Semitism is no laughing matter.