WASHINGTON – Antisemitism remains a problem embedded in Arab media, curricula and culture, despite efforts by regional governments to align themselves with Israel and against Iran, according to a US report published on Tuesday.
The annual State Department report, documenting freedom of religion around the world, lists several examples of Arab press outlets perpetuating conspiracy theories and blood libels against Jews.
Clerical sermons throughout the region often include antisemitic diatribes. And students are still educated with antisemitic texts printed by the states.
One of the largest universities in Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom has suggested of late that Israel has a right to exist, “continued to teach a course on Judaism saying that Jews rely on three texts: ‘The Torah, The Talmud, The Protocols of Zion,’” a conspiratorial antisemitic text, the report reads. And “observers noted the presence of some antisemitic texts at government-sponsored book fairs during the year.”
While one synagogue exists in Bahrain, where a reported 36 Jews remain, no houses of worship are available for Jews throughout the rest of the Arabian peninsula.
Kuwait remains one of the 10 most antisemitic countries in the world, according to the report, which in turn cites the Anti-Defamation League. And Qatar, which has launched a public relations campaign in the US targeting its Jewish community, continues to push antisemitic messages through its media outlets.
Media based in the Qatar “periodically published antisemitic material,” the report reads. “In June the government- funded Al Jazeera English website posted and then deleted a Twitter message featuring an antisemitic cartoon claiming a Jewish plot to deny climate change. In June privately owned Al-Raya newspaper published a cartoon showing a witch with a Star of David wand causing inter-Arab disputes. In July Al-Raya also printed a cartoon depicting an octopus with the Star of David on its forehead trying to devour the Aqsa Mosque.
“In December, after the announcement that the United States would relocate its embassy [to Jerusalem], Al-Watan newspaper published a cartoon caricature of an Orthodox Jew standing in front of the Arabic word for ‘Jerusalem,’” the report continues. “In December cartoons published in a local media outlet used antisemitic imagery in its criticism of a Bahraini nongovernmental delegation to Israel as an act of betrayal of Arab nationalism.”
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Jewish communities continue to shrink. The report notes that NGOs estimate only 50 Jews remain in Yemen, while only one lives in the entire country of Afghanistan, home to 35 million people.
“There are small numbers of practitioners of other religions, including one Jew,” the report reads of Afghanistan.
“Kabul’s lone synagogue remained inactive, and a nearby Jewish cemetery was utilized as an unofficial dump.”