For far too long the pervasive Middle Eastern qualification of Jews as murderers and bloodsuckers was dismissed in the West as an extreme view of radical fringe groups. But it is not. It is time for the region's secular movements to start a counter-education in tolerance.
Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was caught on tape about three years ago urging his followers to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. Not long after, the then-leader of the Muslim Brotherhood described Zionists as “bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians,” “warmongers,” and “descendants of apes and pigs.”
These remarks are disgusting, but they are neither shocking nor new. As a child growing up in a Muslim family, I constantly heard my mother, other relatives, and neighbors wish for the death of Jews, who were considered our darkest enemy. Our religious tutors and the preachers in our mosques set aside extra time to pray for the destruction of Jews.
For far too long the pervasive Middle Eastern qualification of Jews as murderers and bloodsuckers was dismissed in the West as an extreme view expressed by radical fringe groups. But it is not.
All over the Middle East, hatred for Jews and Zionists can be found in textbooks for children as young as 3, complete with illustrations of Jews with monster-like qualities. Mainstream educational television programs are consistently anti-Semitic. In songs, books, newspaper articles, and blogs, Jews are variously compared to pigs, donkeys, rats, and cockroaches, and also to vampires and a host of other imaginary creatures.
Consider this infamous dialogue between a 3-year-old and a television presenter, eight years before Mr. Morsi’s remarks.
Presenter: “Do you like Jews?”
“Why don’t you like them?”
“Jews are apes and pigs.”
“Who said this?”
“Where did he say this?”
“In the Koran.”