Author's Note: While this article was published in 1965 in a small Zionist publication, it still accurately reflects the history and main principles of Arab propaganda. Since 1967 that propaganda has changed to emphasize "Palestinian self determination", Palestinian "rights" and to enlist the support of "human rights" and leftist groups.
It is important to note that the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran are still the world's largest publisher 'a of "hard core" anti-Semitic literature like the PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION. Syria's Defense Minister recently wrote a book to prove that accusations of "blood libel" against the Jews were true. That is that "Jews kill Christians, especially children, to use their blood in the preparation of rnatza during Passover." I have added a few author notes to update some of the text.
"It is time that Americans realize that these teeming masses of Zionists who infest their cities and sit astride the arteries of their commerce are, in every sense of the word, aliens."
The above quotation, in passion and paranoic ring could have come from the pen of anyone of our local hatemongers, whose rhetoric we have come to know well over the past half century. Yet, these words are neither the work of a professional rabble-rouser, nor of a right-wing extremist; rather they come from a presumably scholarly work written by Musa Khuri, an Arab college professor.
This points up two rather disturbing realities: That Arab propaganda has broadened in area of attack w Jewish populations Out-side of Israel; it has, in effect, joined forces with local anti-Semites. Secondly, this propaganda apparatus, sanctioned, as it is, by duly recognized governments which together form an influential political power bloc, has lent these local anti-Semitic efforts the aura of respectability.
Arab propaganda constitutes a formidable threat to the Jewish people. This essay will focus upon the Arab propaganda effort in this country first by examining its history, institutions arid aspirations, and secondly, by analyzing the techniques and themes that it uses to achieve its goals. Finally, we will attempt to measure the effectiveness of this endeavor.
Ironically, the initial inspiration for this effort was stimulated by the success of the Zionist movement in this area. For while the Arabs used political obstructionism and violence to oppose the creation of a Jewish State, the Zionists built up a propaganda apparatus that succeeded in convincing the majority of Americans of the efficacy and rightness of a Jewish State in Palestine. The Zionist diplomatic victory in securing the UN partition of Palestine1 convinced the Arabs of the necessity of attracting favorable public opinion.
Arab propaganda first entered the country in an organized fashion after World War Ir, when several of the newly liberated Middle Eastern nations formed the Arab League, binding themselves together politically for the first time in modern history.
A year later, the member states of the League established the first Arab office of Information in Washington, D.C The Institute of Arab-American Affairs, founded in the same year, supposedly to promote Arab-American cultural exchange and friendship, was revealed to be concerned primari1y with heading off American support of a Jewish State. While national rivalries between the Arab gates prevented anything like a coordinated propaganda campaign, the cumulative amount of propaganda increased as each state embarked upon its own campaign.
After the creation of the State of Israel, the Arab League Information Offices began to take on a more professional look. This re-organization was achieved during the years 1948-1955, due, primarily. to the efforts of Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, then Secretary General of the Arab League. He came to America in 1950 to stir up support for a unified propaganda effort In January, 1955, the new Arab Information Center was opened in New York with a budget of $400,000. It set out to do the job prescribed by Azzam Pasha; and was headed by the former Egyptian Ambassador to the US., Kamil Rahim What do the Arabs hope to gain by this great effort and expense? Bluntly speaking: to bring about conditions that would facilitate the destruction of the State of Israel They concentrate most of their propaganda in the United States, because they feel that this country was the greatest single influence that contributed to the creation of Israel and that it still is the major force standing in the way of Israel's destruction.
The Arabs, therefore, aim to neutralize the impact of America on the Middle East and, if possible, to draw her over to their side. This requires that the propaganda apparatus achieve the following effects: To drive a wedge between Israel and the American Jewish community; to alienate the Jew from the rest of America, and destroy his political and economic strength; and to convince the American people, and through them the American government, that it must adopt a pro-Arab, anti-Israel foreign policy.
Let us briefly examine these three conditions and understand why their achievement is absolutely necessary before an Arab policy of eliminating Israel can hope to succeed. The Arabs have always looked at the Jews of America as allies of Israel, and it is against this alliance that the bulk of the Arab propaganda is directed. During the past fifteen years, the Jews of America have given invaluable material and political support to the State of Israel. American Jewish aid has helped make possible the absorption of over 1,000,000 immigrants in Israel, and has given impetus to her economy. The Arabs, therefore, believe that they must destroy this relationship as a precondition to destroying the state. Recognizing that such a campaign might not succeed, the Arabs have devised other means of limiting the effectiveness=B7 of the American Jew. If Israel can not be made alien to the American Jew, then the Jew can be made alien to his non-Jewish neighbor. Isolate the Jew, and you isolate Israel; destroy Jewish prestige in America, and you destroy Israel's; weaken Jewish economic and political strength and you weaken Israel's potential to survive.
And finally, they believe that a long-range program to win wide-spread support of their policies from the American people is essential. If they can do this they will be able to prevail upon the American government to take a pro-Arab. anti-Israel position in its foreign policy. These ideas and projected goals are certainly plausible and, to a great degree, necessary, if Israel is to be destroyed with impunity.
To achieve these goals, the Arab Information Center has published voluminous material and have distributed it extensively. School and public libraries regularly receive large amounts of unsolicited propaganda; civic, church and political clubs are treated to a host of polished Arab speakers who are able to lecture on a wide variety of subjects but always manage to direct the discussion to the Arab-Israeli conflict; hundreds of anti-Israel letters are kept flowing to large and small papers across the country.
The themes and techniques exploited in the letters, books, pamphlets and speeches follow a pattern. Virtually all Arab propaganda is based on the following postulates:
The establishment of Israel represents a great "imperialistic" injustice to the Arabs.
The Arabs of Palestine were expelled from their homes by "alien" invaders who seized their country.
Muhanimad T. Mehdi spells this out explicitly in his recent pamphlet The Question of Palestine:
"The question of Palestine is basically a problem of intrusion of a group of foreigners, largely Europeans, into the Arab land of Palestine, against the will of the Arab people, but with British and later American and Western support."
A wide variety of proposals, arguments, themes and accusations based on these postulates appear periodically in Arab propaganda. In all of their efforts the distinction between Zionist and Jew is blurred, although the Arabs frequently claim to have no quarrel with the Jews, but only with the Zionists. We will deal with this lack of precise distinction, when we discuss the use of anti-Semitic themes in its propaganda.
Here, then, are some examples of recurrent themes:
An 'international" Zionist (often Zionist-Jewish or Zionist-Jewish-Communist depending on the audience) conspiracy was able to take aver Palestine because:
(a) It controls the mass media in this county.
(b) It controls the wealth of this country.
(c) It controls both political parties
Arabs never wished a close relationship with Communist countries, but were forced to do so because of the creation of Israel, and the Western role in bringing it about.
Israel is guilty of stealing land and property that belongs to Arabs; of military aggression; of creating tension to help it pleas for aid.
The UJA. is not a chanty; therefore contributions should not be tax-exempt.
Highly Organized, well financed "minority groups" pressure the American government to adopt programs that are supposedly in their respective private interest, but are, in fact, detrimental to the United States.
The Zionists (Jews) are, in reality, loyal to Israel, and, therefore, aliens to America.
Communism is not only legal, but popular in Israel, which constitutes a Communist menace in the Middle East.
Israel benefits from anti-Semitism in the sense that it uses it as an excuse to increase immigration and ask for more aid
Israel preaches peace, but is guilty of aggression; it desires territorial expansion.
There would be peace if Israel accepted U.N. Resolutions
American prestige in the Middle East is damaged, end Arab-American friendship is inhibited by American supporters of Zionism.
Desecration Christian and Moslem holy places.
Charges of atrocity.
Israel persecutes the Arab minority
The Jews have been worse than even the Nazis in their relations to the Arabs.
While this list could certainly be extended, it does include the most frequently-used arguments of Arab propaganda. Direct collusion, involving payoffs and exchanges of material, has been uncovered and published by the Anti-Defamation League in its recent book on the exploitation of anti-Semitism for political purposes, Cross-Currents. The book gives a account of how Gerald L. K. Smith received large gifts from Arab sources for publishing stories on the "Palestine question" in his publication. The Cross and the Flag; and how Frank Briton supports himself by rewriting Arab material for American audiences. and selling his own works. such as "Behind' Communism." "Atom Treason" and "Hollywood Treason" to Arab publishers for distribution in the Middle East.
Publishers of other right-wing extremist magazines like Conde McGinley (Common Sense) Gerald Winrod (Defender) and the American Mercury, have use their vehicles for the vilest kind of Arab Propaganda. And the publications of the American Council for Judaism, Jewish Newsletter and Issues have aimed at alienating Jewish readers from the state of Israel. [Author's Note: Today the primary American Jewish groups fulfilling this propaganda function for the Arabs are: New Israel Fund, Americans for Peace Now, New Jewish Agenda, and Michael Lerner's TIKKUN. In Israel there are several political groups which support the Arab propaganda position. They include the Meretz Party, Shalom Akshav, and the left-wing of the Israel Labor Party.]
Joe Alex Morris Jr.. in an article that appeared in the New York Herald Tribune, reveals that American bigots not only distribute Arab propaganda' but also supply Anti-Semitic material to the Arabs. He writes:
"Spreaders of racial and religious bigotry in the United States are among the prime suppliers of propaganda to the Arabs in their political and propagandistic war against Israel"
The Arab states utilize anti-Semitic material in their propaganda because it seems to be the most effective way of alienating and intimidating the American Jew. This goal can best be realized by utilizing the reservoir of prejudice in this country. It is really quite simple: If the policies and ideas of a Gerald L. K. Smith become widely accepted, then Congress will be forced to pass anti-Jewish legislation and adopt an anti-Zionist foreign policy. Smith in his book, Christian Nationalism Vs. Jew-Communist Internationalism alternates the term "Jew-Communist" with "Jew-Zionist" in various chapters. Thus. Smith's readers are prone to accept the Arab conception of the Zionist conspiracy: that took over Palestine and plans to take over other Arab nations and, finally, the world.
Here is how the Arabs take this and-Semitic theme and exploit it for their purposes: Haj Amin el-Husseini, former Mufti of Jerusalem, Grand Mufti of Palestine, Hitler's Middle Eastern propaganda specialist during the war and head of the Arab Republic of Palestine" in exile, declared, recently, in Baghdad:
"The Palestine tragedy is unequaled in history. The Zionist imperialistic plot against Palestine was most inhumane and base. World Judaism plans to take over most of the Arab countries to fulfill its so-called historical dream of a homeland between the Nile and Euphrates. The Imperialist Jewish plot is not aimed at Palestine only...-"
It seems clear from what has been said that an unholy alliance exists between native bigots and Arab propagandists in their aim of destroying the Jewish position in America. The third goal of Arab propaganda is to secure grass-roots support from the American people. It hopes to achieve this in a number of ways:
Exploitation of organizations "devoted" to explaining Arab cultures to America; "service" organizations, such as The American Friends of the Middle East (financed by the large oil companies) which purport to be aimed, solely, at promoting Arab-American friendship; through student exchange and similar pro-grams; personal indoctrination of individuals by carefully selected Arab students (over 5,000 in this country).The effectiveness of this ubiquitous propaganda machine seems to be increasing as the skill and experience of its director improves. Today the Arabs are not easily caught in compromising positions with native hate-mongers a they were in previous years. The tone of the propaganda has become less vile, subtler, psychologically oriented. [Author's Note: The most important improvement in Arab propaganda is its ability to utilize Jewish and left-wing groups for its anti-Israel campaign.]
And yet, the factor which impedes its progress the most is the overall decline of bigotry in this country. The ADL has discovered that where reservoirs of prejudice exist, they are reinforced by the introduction of Arab propaganda. It can only be hoped that with the improvement in the educative process, communication and means of world travel, that there will be a decline in prejudice, and a concomitant decline in the effectiveness of Arab propaganda.