Tuesday, December 31, 2002

CAIRO Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s political adviser has criticized Arab writers for attacking Israel, saying many use the same “racist” accusations that Adolf Hitler’s Nazis used to discriminate against Jews.
In a series of articles published last week in Egypt’s semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper, Osama el-Baz criticized the anti-Jewish sentiment in the Arab world and urged Egyptians not to be blinded by racist views.
“Our prejudices have turned us blind so we are not able to differentiate between good Israelis and bad Israelis,” he wrote.
Mr. el-Baz, the longtime adviser to Mr. Mubarak, also criticized extremist Jews for treating Arabs as a lower race, recalling “one cleric who described Arabs as insects that drink blood while another Israeli minister said that Arabs are like snakes and scorpions.”
His three-part series was a significant departure for a newspaper whose editor in chief was charged in France with “incitement of hatred and anti-Semitic violence” this year for an article describing Jews as vampires who bake cookies with the blood of non-Jews.
A Saudi-run newspaper Al Riyadh this year ran a similar article, saying that the vampirish practice was mandated in the Jewish Bible, the Torah.
Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and attacks against people suspected of being militants during the past two years have pushed anti-Jewish sentiment to new heights in Egypt and the Middle East, particularly within the Arab press.
Based on the Israeli aggression alone, Mr. el-Baz wrote, Arab writers have enough evidence to support the Palestinian cause without “reviving old, negative European myths such as describing Jews as sons of monkeys and pigs.”
“We have to understand that whenever we hurt Jews, we are committing a fatal mistake as attacking them reflects a racist tendency that may harm both our national interests and the Palestinian cause,” he wrote.
Egypt is a key mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis as the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state, in 1979, but official relations between the two governments remain cool.
Last month, the dramatic series “Horseman Without a Horse” aired on Egyptian television, with a plot revolving in part around the anti-Semitic forgery “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The series provoked condemnation from Israel, the United States and Jewish groups worldwide.
Mr. el-Baz denied writing the articles to appease critics of the television program.
“My articles have nothing to do with the series,” he said. “I am only concerned about an issue and I am reflecting my own point of view.”
Despite the disclaimer, Mr. el-Baz’s articles are likely to attract attention throughout the Arab world, where some writers have accused Jewish organizations of blackmailing European countries into supporting Israel’s birth as a Jewish state in 1948 by making up Holocaust tales.
Mr. el-Baz questioned Arab writers’ sympathy for Hitler and Nazism.
“Jews were exposed to the most brutal mass slaughters by Hitler and I wonder how can some Arab writers and politicians back his Nazi movement,” he wrote.
“Arabs and Jews belong to the same ancestry of [the biblical prophet] Abraham,” Mr. el-Baz wrote. “Jews are descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac, while the Arabs are descended from Isaac’s half brother, Ishmael. For this reason, Arabs can’t hate their blood relatives.”

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