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November 22, 2002 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Orli The Fiddler


This Week

Washington Watch

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Congress upset by Egyptian TV show.


Live Violin Music


Bias And Dollars


he State Department isn't
exactly eating crow, but the
U.S. diplomats who last
week let Egypt off the hook
for the ongoing broadcast of an anti-
Semitic television miniseries are now
backtracking in the face of congres-
sional outrage.
The Capitol Hill backlash could
change the character of the annual
debate over Egypt's $2 billion in for-
eign aid, although it is unlikely to
change the outcome. At the same
time, there are hints the Bush admin-
istration wants to refocus U.S. aid to
Arab countries on democracy build-
ing. And that could pose big problems
for Egypt, the second biggest U.S. aid
recipient after Israel and a state that
has ruthlessly suppressed dissent.
The lateSt controversy involves the
Ramadan broadcast of Horseman
Without a Horse, an Egyptian televi-
sion miniseries based in part on the
anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of

the Elders of Zion. •
Jewish groups report that the Bush
administration pressed the government
of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
hard on the issue — but the Egyptians
steadfastly maintained they couldn't
stop the broadcast because it would be
a violation of free expression.
"That's particularly insulting because
there is no free expression or free press
in Egypt," said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-
But last week, after the first broad-
casts of the 41-part series, State
Department spokesman Richard
Boucher said the Bush administration
was satisfied that "there were no refer-
ences in the program to the Protocols
of the Elders of Zion czarist forgery
designed to incite violence against
Jews. We also welcome the public
assurances by the Egyptian govern-
ment that the program contains no
anti-Semitic material."
But the State Department changed
its tune after subsequent episodes
delved into the Protocols. Over the
weekend, a State Department
spokesperson said the show "does great
harm to Egypt's reputation." Despite
protests from Washington, the pro-

gram has been enthusiastically picked
up by television stations and networks
across the Arab world.
Rep. Engel said a cut in Egypt aid is
unlikely, especially now that
Washington is gearing up for an attack
against Iraq. Even holding some of
Egypt's money in escrow until the gov-
ernment cracks down on media anti-
Semitism, as the Anti-Defamation
League has suggested, is not likely.
But Engel said that there will be a
difference in the aid debate next
spring, with a closer examination of
exactly why Egypt needs more than $1
billion in military aid and more scruti-
ny of how economic aid is used.
"There will be a very active discus-
sion this time around about whether
our aid is contributing to Mubarak's
iron grip — and
whether some of the
aid is supporting the
same propaganda
organizations that are
spewing out all this
anti-Semitism," said a
congressional staffer.
ADL Director
Abraham Foxman
Rep. Engel
said despite mount-
ing pressure on the
Cairo government,
"this will probably not be a turning
point in relations with Egypt. But
there's no question it will sour rela-
tions. They have not shown an iota of
understanding of why this kind of
open anti-Semitism is a problem for
the Jewish community or for the U.S.

Aid For Israel

Aid is also on the minds of Israeli offi-
cials, although with the U.S. budget
crisis producing panic in Washington,
they are broaching the subject with
utmost caution.
Despite a flurry of trial balloons out
of Israel suggesting aid requests that
could go as high as $10 billion, Israeli
sources say no decisions have been
made about how much or what kinds
of aid to ask for.
"In recent meetings (with adminis-
tration officials) we have discussed the
difficulties the Israeli economy is expe-
riencing," said an Israeli official.

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