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1/9/03 - EGYPTIAN OPPOSES ANTI-SEMITISM - 2003-01-10


A political adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has spoken out against racist attacks on Jews. In a series of articles in the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram [ahl-ah-rahm], Osama el-Baz [oh-SAHM-el-BAHZ] says the serious political disputes between Arabs and Israelis should not be an excuse for anti-Jewish speech, writing, or behavior.

Mr. el-Baz calls on Arabs and Muslims to “uphold the correct perspective on our relationship with the Jews, as embodied in the legacy of Arab civilization and in our holy scriptures. This legacy holds that ours is not a tradition of racism and intolerance, that the Jews are our cousins through common descent from Abraham, and that our only enemies are those who attack or threaten to attack us.”

The comments by Mr. el-Baz come less than two months after Egyptian television stations broadcast a long adventure series called “Horseman [or “Knight”] without a Horse.” The television series endorsed the existence of the so-called “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a fictitious document asserting a Jewish plot to take over the world. Human rights groups and others strongly protested the use of the “Protocols” in the series.

In his articles, Mr. el-Baz says there is no doubt that the “Protocols” are “fraudulent” and a “forgery.” He also condemns the circulation of other lies about Jews, including the “blood libel,” the despicable claim that Christian blood has been used in Jewish rituals. Furthermore, said Mr. el-Baz, Arabs and Muslims “should not sympathize in any way with Hitler or Nazism. The crimes [the Nazis] committed were abominable, abhorrent to our religion and beliefs.”

In the wake of the Nazi Holocaust, says Mr. el-Baz, it is understandable that Jews, as a small minority of the world’s population, should be “wary of any resurgence of anti-Semitism that could lead to other acts of genocide.” Nevertheless, he says, Israelis and their supporters should not accuse critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic. Mr. el-Baz says that this “blurs the distinction between an unacceptable racist phenomenon and legitimate criticism of a state’s policies and practices.”

Egyptian official Osama el-Baz concludes with words that Israelis and Arabs, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, can all take to heart. “We must set our sights,” he says, “towards a better future in which all can live in peace and security instead of remaining rooted in a cycle of bloodshed, destruction, and ruined opportunities.”

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