Saturday, June 21, 2008

Spinning Egyptian incitement

Contradictions between what is needed for the home market and what is needed to please international opinion can keep Arab world spinmeisters busy. A case in point is Egypt, the recipient of $2 Billion in US aid and a supposed peace partner with Israel. Egyptian culture minister Farouk Hosni is nominated by France for a UN job. (See Talk Like an Egyptian). But oops! - he happened to say in a parliamentary debate (for internal consumption) that he would burn Israeli books. Even in France they think that is a bit extreme these days. Chirac is no longer in power.
While transmitting peace light and liberalism abroad, Egypt, like other Arab regimes, has a different program for the home audience. Textbooks villify Jews. Media broadcast anti-Semitic materials that perpetuate the blood libel and the myth of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Egyptian government control journals publish slander and polemics about the evils of Israel and the United States, not hesitating to bite the hand that feeds them, and to bite hard. Imam's regularly call for Jihad against Israel, and oppose "terror" unless it involves killing Jews.
Not surprisingly, this double dealing sometimes gets government figures in trouble, as explained below. Minister Hosni will try to brush off the whole incident in which he advocated book burning for Israeli publications. It is a "misunderstanding" you see. He is twisting and squirming, but just gets deeper into his own lies. It is not his fault alone, for he represents an entire system. 
One remark might be due to a misunderstanding. But every issue of Al Ahram, and all the Egyptian legislation against Christians and persecution of Christians, and all the incitement in educational materials and media - can all these be a "misunderstanding?"
Ami Isseroff  

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