Thursday, 25 July 2013

Celebrating Ramadan with a little Jew-hatred

I have read several articles in the run up to and during the start of Ramadan telling of the ways that normal Muslim families relax in the evenings after a hard day fasting. The BBC have been big on family meals and even British Airways' HighLife magazine managed a puff piece on Egyptian Ramadan soap operas. What none of the mainstream media has yet mentioned is the TV series Khaybar.

This year many Arab TV satellite channels are airing a series called Khaybar, referring to the Muslim massacre of the Jews of the town of that name in northwestern Arabia in 628 CE. After the attack, some Muslims, including Muhammad, took surviving women as wives. The Muslim conquerors charged the Jews a 50 percent tax on their crops and in 637, after Muhammad’s death, the Caliph Omar expelled the remaining Jews from Khaybar.

Does the name Khaybar ring a bell?  It should, it's featured on this blog before. In Islamic tradition, the chant “Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud,” which means, “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,” is used as a battle cry when attacking Jews or Israelis. It was chanted on the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla ship in May 2010.

This new Khaybar retelling deals with the relationship between the Jews and the Arab tribes of Medina as well as between the Jews of Medina and Khaybar. One Arab media outlet described the film as demonstrating the Jews’ “hostility toward others, their treacherous nature, and their repeated betrayals.”

The plot deals with Jews asking Miqdad, an Arab warrior, to fight for them; he refuses to kill women and children and is sent to prison. Another episode, based on Islamic tradition, involves a Jewish woman whose father and brother were killed by Muslims and who tries to get revenge by attempting to poison the prophet.

The film was produced by Echo Media, a Qatari company and has or will air on channels such as Dubai TV, Dream TV (Egypt), Al-Iraqiyya TV, Algerian Channel 3, Atlas TV (Algeria), Qatar TV and UAE TV.

The actors in this serial know what it is about. Sameh al-Sereity, one of the main actors in the show, plays Muhammad ibn Maslamah, the bodyguard of the prophet Muhammad and he told an Egyptian newspaper the show portrays the evolution of Jews’ hatred of others.
“The hostility between us and the Jews still exists. The hatred is ingrained. Neither Egyptians nor Arabs need this show to justify their hatred of Zionism. The existing struggles between us provide the simplest proof of this,”
Another actor, Ahmad Abd al-Halim, said:
“I play one of the Jewish characters, who demonstrates the behavior of the Jewish human being. All he thinks about is accumulating money.”
The show’s screenwriter, Yusri al-Gindi, said in an interview with Al Jazeera about the series:
“The Jews are the Jews. They still act according to their nature, despite the passing generations. They corrupt any society in which they live, and therefore no regime can protect them with any contract or agreement.

The crisis in the Arab world offers the best proof of this, and this is where the show gets its current relevance.”
Here's some video of the actors and others associated with the series discussing the Jews.

Ramadan specials like Khaibar are designed to remind large numbers of Arab viewers, every day for a month, that their Jewish neighbours are plotting their destruction. In 2005 a Lebanese TV series titled The Diaspora Arabs featured a scene in which Jews slaughtered a Christian child for their secret matzah ingredient, the blood of Christians - the blood libel that I have blogged about before as living on in many Muslim majority countries.

Ramadan is supposed to give observant Muslims a month of spiritual reflection, self-restraint, and an opportunity to give to charity. Yet too often Ramadan also offers another dose of unchallenged hatred of Jews. These planted seeds of Jewish hatred are bearing the fruit of anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism that is all too often the main expression of Muslim identity in the 21st century.

So why have the BBC not been outraged by this, or previous, vile pieces of Ramadan television? Does their Middle East team not know about it? In which case they are clearly incompetent. Does their Middle East team know about it but consider it uninteresting or irrelevant? Does their Middle East team maybe consider this programme to be fair comment?

Anti-Semitism is rife and accepted as normal, indeed correct, in most of the Middle East and indeed the wider Muslim world. However to point this out in the west is considered Islamophobic. It's a sick, sick, world.

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