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Op-Ed: Antisemitism, authoritarianism, conspiracy and porn

By Paul Iddon     Nov 29, 2012 in World
An Egyptian preacher has accused 'the Jews' of orchestrating a conspiracy to use Internet pornography in order to corrupt Muslims.
Abd Al-Fattah Abu Zayd, the Egyptian preacher, stated in a sermon on the Egyptian Tahrir TV channel that the Jews have "replaced the armed forces with soft power." The soft power in question, Internet pornography. This soft power, in his words, functions through the promotion of destructive "urges, sex and women." (MEMRI, November 23, 2012)
Furthermore, according to Al-Fattah, this alleged Jewish conspiracy has seen to the propagation of "4.2 million pornography websites to corrupt the nation of Mohammed." (The Jewish Chronicle, November 29, 2012)
A religious preacher denouncing pornography, nothing necessarily new or newsworthy here, nor is, sadly, the rampant antisemitism that was present in his statements. He even quotes the long ago discredited fabrication that is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which is still propagated and thought to children by the likes of Hamas and other Islamist fundamentalist groups.
Nevertheless, the cleric is right about one thing, significant percentages of visitors to Israeli internet porn sites of all places are consumers from Arab countries from countries that include "the nation of Mohammed." As reported a few years back, "porn-consuming Saudis", among others, have constantly accessed Israeli pornography sites using proxy servers to overcome the numerous internet censors and filters imposed on them by ruling religious authorities. Material viewed usually depict female Mossad agents and soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces. Many surfers, from these "enemy states", who left feedback on these sites were apparently a tad confused about the authenticity of the roles played by these female stars. Some seemed genuinely confused about whether or not the women depicted were in reality soldiers in the IDF.
One such "movie" that was popular with that portion of the audience was, perversely, an erotic reenactment of the kidnapping of Mordachei Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician who was duped and kidnapped by a female Mossad agent in 1986 after he gave Israeli nuclear secrets to the British press. (Ynet News, August 22, 2007)
So, we have cases of young Arab men using the Internet to view pornography, nothing essentially new or out of the ordinary there neither. The salient and striking thing that is to be heard upon listening to the statements being made by Al-Fattah are the highly conspiratorial and antisemitic undertones that he expressed.
Take the aforementioned 'Protocols' that he propagates as fact. When one recalls why this document was fabricated in the first place, the hateful, insidious impressions it gives of Jews and the actual physical harm that befell the Jewish people as a result of people believing that the Protocols were fact, one cannot help but to feel unease. All the basic perceptions and predispositions that justified the rampant antisemitism in 'Christian Europe' throughout the centuries are present in the sentiments expressed by Al-Fattah.
In this convoluted and distorted view the Muslims are, like the Europeans before them, completely benevolent, peace-loving and moral people who are being corrupted by a small tight-knit 'cabal' of outsiders. These outsiders are responsible for all the wrongs in society, from the smallest of problems to the biggest. Blaming an outside culture for all the failings of ones society is usually the formative step in the formation of such highly delusional and eventually hateful and even violent antisemitic beliefs.
Of course religious conservatives are always going to over-exaggerate any pop cultural phenomenon and denounce various things they see as immoral or harmful to the kind of society they perceive as a healthy one. Just look at elements of the Christian right in the United States and the evident disgust they show towards today's pop culture in general. Pornography in the same regard is something of questionable moral value, and obviously people of different religious and political backgrounds are going to have different perceptions and views on it. As I said, this aspect of the debate doesn't even enter the equation with regard to Al-Fattah's pronouncements. Since these pronouncements single out and indict an entire people for imbedding, what he claims are, immoral and destructive entities into his society.
While we can debate the finer points of how moral a society controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood really would be under the surface, the way in which Al-Fattah invokes the Protocols shows in essence where him and his radical ilk are coming from. Under the pretense that conspiratorial Jewish subversion and meddling is damaging society through the use of 'soft power' -- hence the promulgation of practices and activities deemed to be immoral -- Al-Fattah and his fanatical milieu can generally apply this rule of thumb to include everything and anything they find objectionable. If like-minded theocrats and authoritarian minded Islamists took power similar propaganda would likely be used in order to clamp down on and subvert any opposition to such a rule.
One doesn't need to ponder which would be the worse situation to live with, a handful of young Saudi males with an Internet proxy server looking to view some sexual material in order to fulfill their sexual desires, or, the implementation of an official antisemitic policy by a fundamentalist clique in Egypt. A clique that will seek to 'protect' children and young people by teaching them the same banal lies and bigotry in their formative years that stultified and led their Christian European brothers to commit heinous crimes against humanity not so long ago.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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