- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Egypt tomorrow begins a monthlong television drama based on the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," despite international appeals to halt the project based on a century-old fabrication about a Jewish plot to control the world.

The series, called "Horse Without a Horseman," has a cast of about 400 actors and will air in prime time during the month of Ramadan, when Egyptian Muslims are home eating the extended nightly meal that breaks the daily fast, and are often glued to the television.

The "Protocols" have a long history. The text, falsely attributed to Jewish elders, is widely believed to be the work of the secret police in czarist Russia, who wished to turn public opinion away from internal criticism of Czar Nicholas II's ruthless regime and toward a large and mostly poor ethnic minority.

But researchers now believe the "Protocols" were first devised in France, plagiarized from a political satire about Napoleon III.

The U.S. State Department has condemned the series and urged Egypt to prevent it from airing.

The American Lawyers Committee for Human Rights has called the series "inflammatory material [that] can only perpetuate conflict and the ensuing human suffering for all people in the region."

"Horse Without a Horseman" is to be aired first on a new private channel in Egypt and then broadcast on Egypt's government-owned national station and in several Arab countries that belong to a syndication service.

The American Jewish Committee and other groups staged a protest yesterday outside the Egyptian Embassy in Washington under the slogan "Hate Kills" and "Stand Against Hate."

The Egyptian Embassy did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Egyptian government officials previously have sought to play down the significance of the series, arguing that the media is not state controlled.

U.S. Ambassador David Welch had raised concerns about the series with Egypt's information minister, Safwat El-Sherif, who asserted that the series "contains nothing that can be considered anti-Semitic."

A State Department official said the United States was concerned about basing a program on "racist and untrue" sources.

Israel has complained the series will breach a 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, which calls on each side to prevent incitement of the other.

Outside analysts maintain that Egypt's government tightly controls all publications and broadcasting, as do governments throughout the Arab world.

"Once again, the Arab media is demonizing Israel and Jews, and no one is speaking out," said a communique from the New York-based Anti-Defamation League. It called on Arab leaders to "put a stop to programming that appeals to ignorance, hatred and anti-Semites."

Egyptian weekly newspaper Roz-Al-Yussuf quotes screenwriter and star Mohammed Subhi as saying: "By means of the series, I am exposing all the protocols of the eldaers of Zion that have been implemented to date, in a dramatic, comic, historic, national [Arab], tragic and romantic manner."

The series purports to portray the history of the Middle East from 1855 to 1917. It begins, according to trailers released in advance of the series, with a scene set in 1948 after the retreat of four Arab armies that had failed to snuff out the newly declared Jewish state.

It then takes an extended, 41-part flashback to the 19th century to "explain" the reasons for Israel's existence and survival.

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