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11/3/03 - ANTI-SEMITIC TELEVISION SERIES - 2003-11-05


The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is underway. Around the world, Muslims are observing the month with prayer, fasting, and spending time with their families. Unfortunately, in some places, people may also be watching a malicious anti-Semitic television drama called “Al-Shatat,” or “Diaspora.” The thirty-part series was produced in Syria and is being shown throughout the Middle East by the television station of the Lebanon-based terrorist group, Hezbollah.

The Syrian-produced series is similar to one broadcast last year during Ramadan on television stations in Egypt and other countries. That drama was called “Horseman” [or “Knight”] without a Horse” and was based partly on the notorious anti-Semitic forgery called “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” This fictitious document asserts that Jews have long plotted to take over the world. A century ago, it was used in czarist Russia to demonize Jews. Later, the “Protocols” was used in the Nazi German persecution that resulted in the Holocaust, the systematic murder of six-million European Jews.

The Syrian producers of “Diaspora” claim the television drama is “completely unconnected” to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” But the theme is the same as “Horseman,” namely the preposterous -- and hateful -- idea that Jews are plotting to take over the world.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the U.S. is “strongly opposed to any and all displays of anti-Semitism”:

“We view those programs as unacceptable. Such programs do not contribute to the climate of mutual understanding and tolerance that the Middle East so desperately needs.”

Most Muslims and others in the Middle East, of course, are well aware that ethnic or religious hatred is the very opposite of what is needed now in that troubled region. There is no good time to watch an absurd television drama that provokes anti-Semitism -- but especially not during the holy month of Ramadan. Rather, as President George W. Bush said to a group of Muslims he hosted at the White House, Ramadan is “a good time for people of all faiths to reflect on the values we hold common: love of family, gratitude to God, and a commitment to religious freedom.”

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