Anti-Palestinian hyperbole hits new heights in Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks in a nationally televised broadcast in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Fady Fars)

Operation Protective Edge and Hamas’s refusal to accept an Egyptian ceasefire proposal have led to unprecedented levels of Egyptian hostility toward the Palestinian Islamic movement, sometimes morphing into blatant animosity toward all Palestinians.

Keen observers of Egyptian-Palestinian relations have a hard time remembering such high levels of vitriol spewed from both publicly and privately owned TV channels, representing the anti-Brotherhood sentiment currently prevalent in mainstream Egyptian media.

Addressing the nation on the anniversary of the 1952 Egyptian Revolution on Wednesday, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi referred to the crisis in Gaza.

“Egypt sacrificed 100,000 martyrs for the Palestinian cause throughout the history of this conflict,” Sissi said, before tacitly criticizing Hamas’s strategy of armed struggle. “Isn’t it time, after 30 or 40 years of a certain direction, to stop for a moment and consider what has been achieved? To check if we have progressed and succeeded in realizing what we want?”…

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Read the whole thing. It gets worse. The Egyptians do not like Israel but have developed an intense hostility towards Hamas.

“We are unwilling to sacrifice [even] a single soldier’s eyebrow hair for the likes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, while they ‘wage jihad’ around the swimming pools,” he said. “People are revolted by you. Get lost.”

Writing at al-Arabiya, Abdallah Schleifer* is disturbed.

I believe that those Egyptian journalists, commentators and TV news presenters or talk-show hosts condemning Palestinians are an extreme response to Hamas’ status as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood which the Egyptian government has classified as a terrorist organization. It also seems to be a response to Egyptian accusations that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is at best sympathetic and at worst participating in armed attacks against Egyptian soldiers by al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist factions operating in Sinai but reportedly based in Gaza.

The remarks made by some hosts praising Netanyahu and condemning the Palestinian people, I believe, are a symptom of what I see as a sentiment that has gathered momentum over the years; that the Palestinians, and in particular their leadership, do not appreciate the sacrifices made by Egypt in the many Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1956, the undeclared war of attrition in 1969 and 1970, and the October 1973 war.

But, there are other aspects. Egyptian TV talk shows, both on the many privately owned channels as well as Egypt state TV, have attracted a tremendous following precisely because they tend to practice a polemical, lively and sensational style of journalism, in my opinion. This reinforces the tendency that I personally believe has always existed in the Egyptian media, which suggests it is quite acceptable for reporting to be partisan rather than objective or detached and in turn for columnists to go beyond expressing opinion with dramatic polemical flourishes.

*Abdallah Schleifer: a strange name if I ever heard one. It rang a bell: he is Jewish convert to Islam. From Wikipedia:

S. Abdallah Schleifer (born Marc Schleifer, 1935) is a prominent Middle East expert, former NBC Cairo Bureau chief, and a professor of TV journalism at the American University in Cairo. He has interviewed countless Middle Eastern leaders. Born in a secular Jewish family on Long Island, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where he was involved in Marxist movements. He is a convert to Sufi Islam.

There is that connection between Islam and the far left again.