Friday, August 13, 2010

Foolish foreigners who ignore Egyptian Jew-hatred

Something has been troubling blogger Yaacov Lozowick lately: it's the failure of foreigners ( in this case Germans) in Egypt, and serious western publications, such as The Economist, to point out the all-pervasive antisemitism in Egypt. Here's his post:

"A few weeks ago I had a fascinating discussion with a young German historian from Berlin, who studies antisemitism in the Arab world. As a mark of his seriousness, he speaks Arabic, mostly Egyptian Arabic, and has spent lots of time in Cairo. As he sees it, hatred of Jews in Egypt is all-pervasive, very extreme, and worthy of comparison to Nazi Germany. Interestingly, however, he noted that many of the Germans who live in Cairo - German teachers, journalists, those sort of people - don't see it. When he points it out to them, they still can't see it.

"He was troubled by the extent of the hate, and puzzled by the ability of Germans (Germans!) to be totally oblivious to it.

"There are no Jews in Egypt ( there are about 30 mainly elderly ladies in fact - ed) , by the way, nor have there ever been large numbers of them since Hellenic times. So it's safe to say that effectively 100% of Egyptians have never met a Jew, nor have their forebears dozens of generations back. At least Poles who hate Jews can lean on the memories of their grandparents; not so the Egyptians.

"Lest you think it's only silly Germans who can't see the elephant in the room, however, it occurs to me that Richard Cohen's criticism of The Economist (linked yesterday) was overly gentle. A few weeks back The Economist had a full-blown, ten-chapter special report on Egypt. Probably 20-30,000 words, I'd say, some of them quite interesting, some mildly aggravating. In the entire report the word antisemitism doesn't appear one single time. Nor is it hinted at in any way. Islamism does get one of the ten chapters, but is described as a spent force, and anyway there's no discussion of its content.

"Does this mean The Economist are themselves antisemitic? No. But it does prove they're fools."

*Talking of Germans in Cairo, this piece on the late 'Butcher of Buchenwald' Carl Debouche appeared recently in The Independent. It's from an unexpected source - Robert Fisk. (With thanks: Eliyahu)
Nazi Hans Eisele aka Carl Debouche (Alamy)

Fisk describes how Debouche (real name Hans Eisele) used to stare for hours at the synagogue in Maadi opposite his home, but writes nothing about the central role played by such Nazis in the propagation of postwar antisemitism in Egypt. He somewhat ghoulishly finds Debouche's grave - apparently well-tended by people who still cherish this Nazi' war criminal's memory.

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