On June 18th an article appeared in the features section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Ramadan: Historical TV dramas break with past in Muslim world“. Written by BBC Monitoring, the piece correctly notes in its opening paragraphs that:
“The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is associated with TV dramas and soap operas across the Arab and Muslim world.
Millions of Muslims in the Arab World spend hours watching TV during and after breaking their fast.
It is during Ramadan that commercial TV channels get their highest ratings for the year. Egyptian and Syrian TV productions predominate.”
But how does the “break with past” described in the article’s headline manifest itself? The only very vague clue to that comes in this section of the report:
“Egypt goes further with historical dramas breaking tradition with a drama sympathetic to Egypt’s vanished Jewish community.
The Jewish Quarter depicts a time when Jews and Muslims lived together harmoniously.”
What BBC Monitoring refrains from telling readers is that in many cases, the television dramas produced for Ramadan are rife with antisemitic content and anti-Israel messaging. And whilst this new Egyptian series ‘The Jewish Quarter’ [Haret el Yahood] may indeed be “sympathetic” to Egyptian Jews – who did not mysteriously ‘vanish’ as this article suggests but were actually expelled or coerced to emigrate by Egypt – it too is apparently not without a specific political slant.
“The show, which presents the Jewish community in Egypt in the 40s through a love story between a Jewish girl and a Muslim Egyptian army officer, attempts to present the difference between “good” Jews and “bad” Jews; the good Jews are the ones who are loyal to Egypt and support its war against Israel while Zionist Jews, who are loyal to Israel, are depicted as wicked, liars, evil and trying to betray Egypt. Midhat Al-adl, who wrote the script for the show, told Al Jazeera that the show “condemns Israeli Zionism and racism.””
Two additional segments of this article are also worthy of note. [all emphasis added]
“Another series – Darb al-Yasmin – takes place in a southern Syrian village during the late 1990s and focuses on the military and intelligence work of the resistance against Israel.”
“Also popular this Ramadan is The Soil and Salt – a Lebanese TV series about Islamic resistance against Israel.”
As veteran Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari has pointed out:
“The literal translation of the Arabic word muqawama is “resistance,” but that does not reflect the full meaning of the term. A more correct translation would be “the doctrine of constant combat,” or “persistent warfare,” which is how Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas’s Khaled Mashal define it.”
‘Resistance’ is in fact an English language euphemism for violence and terrorism conducted by those negating Israel’s existence. The fact that the mainstream BBC chooses to adopt and amplify the term uncritically and without any proper explanation to audiences of what that euphemism really means is as worthy of note as its concealment of the long tradition of antisemitic content in Ramadan television programmes.