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Syrian TV Series Slammed for Anti-Semitic Ideas

A new Arabic television series is being scrutinized by Jewish organizations and the Western World for allegedly propagating anti-Semitic messages. The 26-episode Syrian production is currently being broadcast on the Hizbullah television station Al-Manar, during the holy month of Rama’dan, and is also slated to be aired by official Syrian television, according to the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

A-Shatat (“The Diaspora”) is considered a political drama telling the story of the Zionist movement from Theodore Herzl, up until the establishment of the state of Israel.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organization, said, “This production is highly anti-Semitic, which alleges Jews forged the Bible and follow the dictates of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion [an essay that depicted Jews taking over the world].” The center repined that Jewish leaders are depicted in the series as immoral characters.

Last year an Egyptian television production called ‘Horseman Without a Horse’ provoked similar responses from the Jewish world, claiming it promoted anti-Semitism and was also based on the Protocols.

Richard Boucher, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, addressed the issue of A-Shatat, saying, “We’re strongly opposed to any and all displays of anti-Semitism and view programming that includes scenes recognizing the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is an anti-Semitic forgery…as unacceptable. Such programs do not contribute to the climate of mutual understanding and tolerance that the Middle East so desperately needs.”

“The series is not anti-Semitic,” said Na’sir Al-Akh’dar, programming manager of Al-Manar television. Al-Akh’dar told The Media Line that, “All the people involved in the production are themselves Semites, so no one can display slogans of anti-Semitism on this series.” Al-Akh’dar said the show reveals truths about the Zionist movement, and there is nothing false in it.

Al-Akh’dar added that the program has not generated accusations of anti-Semitism, except from Jewish organizations in America and Israel. “The Israeli media is saying it’s anti-Semitic,” said Al-Akh’dar, “but in the Arab world people are following and watching the series to learn of its details and judge it for themselves.”

The series spans Zionist history from 1812 until 1948. Al-Akh’dar was asked what the production’s perception is of the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe that occurred at the end of this era. “There is a grain of truth in the Holocaust but it has been politicized immensely to serve the Zionist plan in the Arab region,” he said. However, he said the program does not touch on the Holocaust.

Al-Akh’dar said none of the stories depicted in the series are fabricated and that they are all based on real accounts that appeared in Jewish sources and books written by the Israelis themselves, such as Herzl’s memoirs.

Al-Akh’dar was insistent that there is no connection between the series and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.