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The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.
* This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-governmental organization(s).
A growing ‘Culture of Hate’
On the 55th anniversary of the General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we wish to express to you and all your colleagues in UN bodies our deep dismay and grave concern over the continuous use of a genocidal century-old forgery, The Protocol of the Elders of Zion, as well as the medieval ‘blood libel’ accusing Jews of killing Christian children each year to mix their blood in the Passover Matzah. Two very recent examples highlight this revived culture of hate, which is regularly propagated in Arab/Muslim lands – and not condemned.
The new Alexandria Library was recently renovated with the help of the governments of Egypt and Italy and the collaboration of UNESCO – and in memory of the great Hellenistic Library of antiquity that had been a unique foundation of world knowledge and understanding. Thus, it was with consternation and sadness that we learned of the first exhibition in its manuscript museum that purported to display the sacred texts of the three monotheistic religions, while including an Arabic translation of The Protocol of the Elders of Zion, exhibited alongside the Hebrew Bible or Torah [sic] in the display case concerning Judaism. As director Dr Yusef Ziedan has explained: “it is only natural to place the book [The Protocols] in the framework of an exhibit of Torah [scrolls]”, as “it has become one of the sacred [tenets] of the Jews, next to their first constitution.” (Al-Usbu , Egypt, 17 Nov. 2003).
This Arabic translation by Muhammad Khalifa Al-Tunsi (English version of The Protocols) was first published in 1951 in Egypt, and often reprinted (1st Arabic edition from French, 1925/1927)
In Syria, and elsewhere, there has been a continued rehash of the 1840 Damascus ‘Blood Libel’ accusation, particularly by Defence Minister Mustafa Tlass in his The Matzah of Zion (1983) constantly reprinted since as a Tlass-editions best-seller in several languages, and confirmed by him again in 2003. This, even after the sinister scandal at the 1991 Commission on Human Rights when Syria’s delegate brandished an illustrated and gory Arabic edition of The Matzah of Zion – to prove “the historical reality of Zionist racism.” General Tlass actually wrote in the preface: “The Jew can kill you and take your blood in order to make his Zionist bread.”2
During last month’s Ramadan, Hizbollah’s satellite TV channel Al-Manar — viewed worldwide — broadcast “Al-Shatat” (“Diaspora”), a 30-part Judeophobic / antisemitic “Syrian TV series recording the criminal history of Zionism” (as described in the Syria Times, Damascus, 11 Nov. 2003). Episode 20 depicts a rabbi teaching Jews of the perennial, spiritual need to cut a Christian child’s throat and mix in his blood and then, ritually, “taste the holy Passover matzo.”
Fortunately, a protest from UNESCO’s Director–General Koichiro Matsuura early last week led to the withdrawal on 6 December of The Protocols from the Alexandria Library (International Herald Tribune, 8 Dec. 2003), a welcome example of the power of enlightened protest. We await a protest against this latest Syrian-inspired ‘blood libel’.
On 17 June 2003, at a symposium in Vienna on “Antisemitism” [at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), held in the Vienna Hofburg], you stated: “Denial is not an option. Many people of course would like to deny the reality of anti-Semitism.” Your message then was clear: “So when you reflect on anti-Semitism as a continuing concern, I would invite you to consider programmes of educational activities that can help deal with this phenomenon.” In your posted ‘Human Rights Day Message’(dated 5 Dec. 2003), you “plead for stronger messages of protection, nationally, regionally and internationally,” asking: “what more can be done to strengthen human rights protection … Today I plead for stronger human rights protection.”
Therefore, we solemnly call upon you as Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights - and to the whole Human Rights community — to speak out and redouble UN efforts for the elimination of all hate-generating, especially genocidal, forgeries on websites and in the media, and to engage in wide educational programmes which will develop understanding and mutual respect among peoples and between religious communities.
(Representatives of the Association for World Education to the United Nations Office, Geneva)
[Documentation: MEMRI – Special Dispatch Series N° 619 (3 Dec. 2003); N° 623 (8 Dec. 2003); “Urgent Appeal”: Human Rights Day (10 December 2002) to UNHCHR Sergio Vieira de Mello from the Association for World Education (E/CN. 4/2003/NGO/4); Pierre-André Taguieff, Les Protocoles des Sages de Sion: Faux et Usages d’un Faux, pp. 378-80 (Paris: Berg, 1992)]
8. This introduction – three-quarters of which is reproduced with the author's permission – is as relevant today as when it was first published over thirty years ago. It may help the Commission to combat an ongoing politicidal and genocidal phenomenon.
From D.F. Green's preface to Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel (Geneva, 3rd ed. 1976)
9. On 23 June 1961, the Academy of Islamic Research was founded and linked to Cairo's prestigious Al-Azhar University by a resolution passed by the National Assembly of the United Arab Republic. At the same time, the faculties and administration of Al-Azhar were reorganised and the University itself was attached to the office of the President of the Republic, through the appointment of a special Ministry. This resolution of the National Assembly specified that the Academy should comprise fifty Egyptian members and up to twenty foreigners, all appointed by the President of the Republic. Its first three conferences took place in March 1964, May-June 1965, and October 1966.
10. The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research was convened in Cairo during September 1968 to discuss the fundamentals of the Middle East conflict, particularly its spiritual-theological significance, and its historical antecedents. Mr. Hussain Al-Shafe'i (Vice-President of the United Arab Republic under Presidents Nasser and Sadat) greeted the participants, seventy-seven Muslim Ulema and invited guests, on behalf of President Nasser.
11. Some of the proceedings were reproduced immediately after the Conference in Majallat al-Azhar, the University's monthly. The complete transactions were published in 1970 in Arabic (3 vols.) and in English (1 vol. 935 pp.). In the latter, it is stated on the title page that the book was printed in Cairo by the General Organisation for Government Printing Offices, which signifies governmental support. The efforts involved to have these transactions translated into English indicate that the authorities did not hesitate to publicise the proceedings, thereby propagating to the world the views contained in this volume.
12. The Arab-Israeli conflict is often considered as of a political nature stemming from a territorial litigation. Such conflicts however tend to spill over into other domains. The need to substantiate one's position can lead to an attempt to buttress it by giving it the form of an ideology, or even – as in the present case – the conflict may be theologized as an extreme measure to justify one's position and condemn that of the adversary.
13. It is disheartening to witness some of the principal leaders of the Arab-Muslim world convening for the sake of vilifying another religion and people, shunning neither expressions of abuse, nor the worst invectives. [e.g. Vice-principal of Tanta Institute, Egyptian Sheikh Kamal Ahmad Own, The Jews are the Enemies of Human Life as is Evident from their Holy Book.]
14. Islam, from its origins, includes extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Christian components. These traditional attitudes relating to Jews are now being invested with new life and vigour by the spiritual leaders who took part in this Fourth Conference, in the subsequent Fifth Conference, and in similar learned gatherings held from time to time in other Arab centres.
Recurring themes in the Proceedings: Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research
15. The superiority of Islam over all other religions is brandished as a guarantee that the Arabs will ultimately triumph. The grandeur of Islam must be reflected in future secular successes. Arab defeats and reverses are explained away as having been ordained by a providential design, in order to teach the Arabs a lesson because of their spiritual negligence – and as a purgatorial ordeal.
16. Jews are frequently denoted as the "enemies of Allah" or the "enemies of humanity." This latter expression is even to be found in the opening speech of Vice-President Al-Shafe'i. The expression "dogs of humanity" is used by Mr. Hassan Khaled, the Mufti of the Lebanon.
17. The State of Israel is the culmination of the historical and cultural depravity of the Jews. It has to be destroyed, having been established through aggression, which is its congenital and immutable nature. This task should be achieved by a Jihad, a Holy War.
18. Many participants reiterate that it is outrageous for the Jews – traditionally kept by Arab-Islam in a humiliated, inferior status, and characterised as cowardly – to defeat the Arabs, have their own State, and cause the contraction of the "abode of Islam" (dar al-Islam). All these events contradict the march of History and Allah's design. (see the Lebanese Sheikh Nadim al-Jisr’s lecture on: Good tidings about the decisive battle between Muslims and Israel, in the light of the Holy Qur'an, the Prophetic Traditions, and the Fundamental Laws of Nature and History.)
19. Furthermore, if the picture of the Jews and Judaism as portrayed by the venerable participants of this Conference is, in fact, as they contend the traditional image of the Jews in the eyes of Islam, it is inconceivable that it would not have affected the feelings and behaviour of Arabs toward Jews over the centuries. For it to have been otherwise would have amounted to a schizophrenia which is very implausible.
20. The ideas expounded in this volume could lead to the urge to liquidate the State of Israel (politicide) and the Jews (genocide). If the evil of the Jews is immutable and permanent, transcending time and circumstances, and impervious to all hopes of reform, there is only one way to cleanse the world of them – by their complete annihilation. Did the participants of this Conference intend this, and were they conscious of the dangers concealed in such reasoning? Yet its inner logic could easily lead to such a conclusion.
21. The fact that these sages have witnessed the moral havoc that similar ideas of hatred had wrought in Nazi Germany and were not inhibited from resorting to them only testifies to the vehemence of their attitudes. [In his Mein Kampf, and elsewhere, Hitler cited The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – using this crude forgery, proven since 1921 – to justify his 'Final Solution'.]
22. The seriousness of this compilation is increased because it is a post-Nazi opus. These learned religions dignitaries and academics knew exactly what they were saying, and meant it. The view sometimes aired that the Arabs are unfortunate victims of their language is merely a slander. Language is an instrument. Choosing abusive terms does not stem from exuberance but is a deliberate choice. Furthermore, the lectures reprinted in this book were made in the serenity of an academic environment and were not frenzied harangues to a euphoric public.
23. Arab spokesmen contend that they differentiate meticulously between Zionism and Judaism and that they are against Zionism and not against Judaism. There cannot be a more trenchant disproof of this explanation than the arguments used at the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, at least as regards its participants. The odium of Zionism is described as emanating from the perversity of Judaism. Zionists and Jews are treated synonymously.
24. One may query the direct influence of the Arabic and English editions of these volumes, as their distribution can hardly have been very large. Their importance, however, lies in their being a symptom. It is known that such attitudes are frequently repeated by preachers during the Friday religions services and are mentioned by Arab political leaders
25. The position of a State and its policies should not be assessed merely through the narrow vista of its concrete behaviour or the official pronouncements of its leaders. A political analysis which is based only upon such external realities will be inadequate. Ideologies, beliefs, aspirations and emotions are part of the inner realities on which policies evolve, and they should also be taken into consideration. Deliberations such as those that took place at the Fourth Conference may shed some light on the substratum of Arab attitudes towards Jews and Israel. Herein lies their political significance.
26. The absolutist self-righteous tenor which pervades all the deliberations of the 4th Conference is most repelling. It stands in blatant contradiction to what I consider a moral imperative in moulding positions in international conflicts: relativism, i.e. the understanding that one's adversary also has rights and virtues. In these deliberations, and the attitudes underlying them, there is not a modicum of such relativism, only a pretentiousness that all justice and all rights belong to the Arabs and the Muslims, who represent everything that is good. The Jews and Israel are denigrated as utterly wrong, without any rights and their cause is considered as devoid of any merit.
27. The aim here is not to pour fuel on the flames of this conflict: its blaze has already caused enough suffering, and its calamities have perverted the souls of many. It is to be hoped that this appeal may serve as a general exhortation against the dangers lurking in the ideologization (or worse, in the theologization) of a political conflict
28. When such books, published under government auspices, cease to appear a step towards reconciliation will have been made.
2 David Littman, “Syria’s Blood Libel Revival at the UN: 1991-2000,” in Midstream (New York), pp. 2-8.