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“Khaybar”—A Middle East Reality Check

Much of the discussion about the Middle East peace process tends to focus almost entirely on what Israelis do and what the implications of more concessions to the Palestinians will be for the Jewish state. Some of this emphasis is justified, as Israel ought to do what is not only right but is in its long-term interest. For some on the left that means ignoring not only the openly stated intentions of the Palestinians and their supporters in the Muslim and Arab worlds but also their long record of rejecting peace. But as difficult as it might be to focus the international press as well as liberal Jews on the historical record of the Palestinians and their political culture that makes peace improbable if not impossible, it may be just as important to broaden the discussion to that of the culture of the entire region. If Palestinians have never found the will to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn it is in no small measure because doing so is viewed as treason to the general anti-Zionist cause.

It is that context an item brought to our attention by the Elder of Ziyon website. In one we are informed that a new blockbuster miniseries slated for broadcast throughout the Muslim world in July as part of the region’s version of sweeps week for the Ramadan holiday may not be aired after all. But rather than “Khaybar” being axed for its widely reported anti-Semitic theme, the series may be in trouble because it portrays some of the Prophet Muhammad’s “companions” and therefore offends the religious sensibilities of Dubai TV and other broadcasters. While I have no position about what Muslims ought to consider taboo, the fact that “Khaybar” is still slated to run in most of the Middle East tells us more about what the contemporary Arab world thinks about Jews than canned statements about peace intended for the Western press that peace advocates rely upon.

As the Anti-Defamation League reported in February, there isn’t much doubt about the intent of people that made “Khaybar”—which centers on the historical conflict between early Muslims and Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula during the Prophet’s lifetime:

In an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, an Egypt-based daily news­paper, on January 16, Al-Jindy said, “The goal of the series is to expose the naked truth about the Jews and stress that they can­not be trusted.”

Commenting on the recent changes in the region, Al-Jindy described the importance of recognizing the parallels between “the era of the Khaiber battle” and “contemporary times.”

Al-Jindy also seemed to sug­gest that the series will have a global effect. “I think it is time to expose them [the Jews] even in America itself. I am confident that the United States will realize that it paid a high price for supporting them.”

Khaybar has resonance with those seeking to destroy Israel because the Jewish tribes of the Medina area were conquered, treated with great cruelty and eventually expelled from the region in the year 642. Al Jindy authored another miniseries with anti-Semitic context called “The Wandering Jew.” Its producers are hoping to repeat the success of another series based on the fraudulent “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” that was a huge hit during Ramadan a decade ago.

Rather than dismissing this as irrelevant to the discussion of peace, the popularity of such smears should send a chill down the backs of those who continue to argue that Palestinians and the Arab world are ready to give up their hundred-year-old war to eradicate the Jewish presence in the region. So long as Khaybar remains a safe theme for broad-based Muslim popular culture, we’re a long way from peace in the Middle East.



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