In recent times, interest in the Palestinian question has been dwindling on the Arab street. Everything seems like old news on satellite channels and in the papers.
Muslim governments are taking advantage of the Ramadan TV season to broadcast anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda, some of it reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda that preceded the Holocaust.
With Muslims across the world fasting during the daylight hours and gathering at home for their daily "break of the fast" meal, Arab propaganda ministries take advantage of the large potential audiences for TV shows by broadcasting their top programs, with many shows produced specifically for Ramadan TV watchers. Programs about Israel and the Jewish people are considered top rating draws among Arab media, and each year government-controlled TV stations across the Middle East broadcast programs themed around the supposed treachery committed by Israel or the Jewish people against the Muslims and the world in general.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which monitors media broadcasts in the Arab world, Iran has this year been broadcasting a Syrian-produced series called "Al-Shatat," which purports to show how Jewish bankers – particularly the Rothschilds – came to dominate international banking, and thereby the world. With Jewish characters uttering lines like "all the nations that have accepted non-Jewish faiths should be destroyed and annihilated," and "we have been granted an unparalleled honor -- to dominate the world, by means of capital, knowledge, politics, by means of killing, or any other ploy," the 30-episode series has been shown in Arab countries throughout the Middle East, including Jordan.
Five anti-Israel shows in Egypt
No fewer than five new series being broadcast on Egyptian TV this year revolve around Israel and the Jews. One called "The Spy Wars" tells the story of Samia Fahmy, an Egyptian who was allegedly recruited by the Mossad, but instead "tricked" the Israelis who tried to recruit her and led them to be arrested by Egypt. Another series, called "My Heart is my Proof," tells the story of Jewish-born Egyptian singer Layla Murad, her rise to stardom, the accusations that she secretly supported Israel, and her subsequent fall from grace in much of the Arab world. Another program, "The Second Gate," tells of a mother whose son is kidnapped and taken to Israel.
Not all Egyptians were happy with the selection of programs. Speaking to Agence France-Presse, a student at Cairo University said that the shows about Israel and Jews were just smokescreens, shown "just to keep us occupied, so we don't have to think about the real problems of unemployment and poverty." Another student said "We can't find an enemy? Let's talk about Israel. We should be focusing on people's problems, poverty... and stop talking about Israel and spies. We need to focus on the real domestic issues."
In an interview, Mahmud Zaki, a media professor who stars in one of the series, said that the programs were designed to keep the Egyptian people's attention on Israel. "In recent times, interest in the Palestinian question has been dwindling on the Arab street. Everything seems like old news on satellite channels and in the papers. There was a move to revive interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and re-ignite patriotic feelings," he said.