A new Arabic-language television series, “Khaybar,” scheduled for broadcast in the Muslim world during Ramadan next month is raising alarm among Jewish groups due to the deeply anti-Semitic messages it reportedly conveys.
According to clips translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Jews are portrayed in the program as deceptive, greedy and sinful, stereotypes historically employed as pretexts for the persecution of Jews.
In one excerpt, a Jewish character says they should use their “cleverness” to “instigate civil strife.”
“This is the source of their weakness and our strength,” the character says.
In another scene, a prophet-like character predicts, “Greed blinds you, oh Jews. I foresee days as dark as night ahead of you, oh sinners.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Tuesday denounced the content of two of the episodes which were posted online this week.
“The episodes, which series producers reportedly claim have been leaked, reveal the degree to which classical anti-Semitic narratives are being promoted in the program,” the ADL writes.
The Zionist Organization of America is calling on President Barack Obama to pressure Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to stop the broadcast of the multi-million dollar production. It writes:
The television series, Khayber, celebrates the victory of Muhammad’s Muslim army over the Jewish tribes living in northern Arabia in the battle of Khaybar in 629 C.E. [A.D.] According to most Islamic sources, the Khayber story ends with the slaughter of thousands of Jewish men, women and children. The vanquished Jews were forced thereafter to hand over half their produce to the Muslims until later expelled by the Caliph Umar.
The ZOA reports that the series’ scriptwriter has publicly stated that his goal in the series is to demonize Jews.
“The goal of the series is to expose the naked truth about the Jews and stress that they cannot be trusted …I think it is time to expose them [the Jews] even in America itself. I am confident that the United States will realize that it paid a high price for supporting them,” scriptwriter Yusri Al-Jindy said according to ZOA.
The Qatari newspaper Al-Raya wrote that the series would focus “on the social, economic and religious characteristics of the Jews including politics and conspiracies and how they dominate and control tribes.”
According to the ADL, the battle of Khaybar is often evoked during anti-Israel rallies “to galvanize supporters."
The pro-Israel blogger who writes under the pen name Elder of Ziyon is so concerned that “hundreds of millions of Arabs will be exposed to antisemitism and incitement” that he’s started a petition calling on human rights organizations to condemn the series.
He reports that the series may be in trouble in at least one Arab TV market, not because of anti-Semitism, but because actors portray colleagues of the prophet Mohammed:
Dubai TV is threatening not to show the series because it apparently has actors portraying Mohammed's "companions." Some Muslims extend the ban on portraying prophets in art or drama to anyone Mohammed spoke to as well, and "Khaybar" seems to include some of Mohammmed's companions as characters in the series.
Ali Al Rumaithi, Director of Dubai TV, stated that while it would be a major loss to not broadcast the series, his responsibility to his viewers is more important, and subjecting them to images of Mohammed's companions is a danger. Subjecting them to incitement against Jews is, of course, just dandy.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated the episodes that were posted online and provides these excerpts: