A while ago the Dutch version of the British TV format Who Do You Think You Are? took me on a journey into the past – the program confronts people with their family history. In my case, they took me to Westerbork transit camp in northeast Holland. It was there, during the Second World War, that Dutch Jews were imprisoned before being sent on to eastern Europe, where most of them ended up at Sobibor in Poland, to be killed. It was the first time I heard some of the details about the lonely weeks that my maternal grandmother spent in Westerbork, separated form her children and her husband, left behind in their home town. He died before they could send him to Sobibor. My grandmother was murdered immediately she arrived there. Most members of my mother’s family, and my father’s family were killed in Sobibor. Some in Auschwitz.
A year ago the Middle East Media Research Institute (memri.org) published a report about various articles on the official website of Egypt’s Muslim Brothers. It concluded: ‘The website of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt, Ikhwanonline.com, contains articles with anti-Semitic motifs, including Holocaust denial and descriptions of the “Jewish character” as covetous, exploitative, and a source of evil in human society.’
The report gives several examples: ‘In a June 2011 sermon posted on the website, MB in Egypt General Guide Muhammad Badi discusses the Jews, their traits, and their actions: “Allah warned us against the deceit of the Jews and their dangerous role in sparking wars: ‘Whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out, and they strive to make mischief in the land; and Allah does not love the mischief-makers [Koran 5:64].’”
And: ‘Following the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, a writer on the site named Mahmoud Abd Al-Rahman discussed “the Zionist Jewish character”: “For ages, human society has faced the problem of the Zionist Jewish character. All nations and cultures are in agreement over the nature of the disease intrinsic in the Zionist character… namely sanctification of money, sex, robbery, interest, and treachery… We saw this in pharaonic Egypt, and in the Canaanite, Amalekite, Babylonian, Persian, and Roman [eras].
“The amazing thing is that all the nations dealt with the [Jewish] character in the same manner: by excising this tumor that has harmed all of humanity.”’
These are no mere incidents. Memri reveals the organization’s long history of aggressive anti-Semitism. The current Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, has expressed the same virulent anti-Semitism. Memri translated interviews Morsi gave in September 2010, not long before the start of the celebrated Egyptian Spring, in which he states: “Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war. This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know – these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.” And: “They have been fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout history. They are hostile by nature.”’