Ramadan and TV Shows: Analyzing Antisemitism in the Middle East

A Guided History by Talya Wasserman


The purpose of this study is to examine propaganda against the Jews in Arab countries. This study will specifically focus on anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic, and anti-Zionist messages that are spread in various TV series over the holiday of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the one month out of the year when millions of Muslims in the Arab world and globally gather with their families to celebrate, fast, and apparently – watch a lot television. It is therefore no surprise that those who want to spread propaganda choose this time of the year to broadcast their shows. However, the alignment is still concerning: why should such a religious, joyous time bring about hatred and conspiracy theories?

The shows below cover a wide range of propaganda against Jews including: the blood libel, world domination, obsession with money, lack of humanity, hatred for non-jews and more. As none of these accusations are new, the global reactions to these 21st century shows are equally important to this study. The Middle East cannot be clumped together as a collective whole, each country, government, and regime has its own distinctive traits. Israel, America, and other global players reactions to these shows are significant as well.



Al-Ash Shatat Episode 1 [English]. Accessed November 10, 2015.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVHl8FhGr1Q.

Ash-Shata Episode 2 [English] [4chon.net]. Accessed November 10, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZribifwFc8w.

AtheistMidget. Syrian Anti-Semitic TV-Series. Accessed November 10, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF6-wOYKrlM.

      This is a short clip of the TV show Ash-Shatat. This specific scene portrays a blood libel, a common conspiracy theory against Jews.

“UNHCR – U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2004 – Syria,” September 1, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070901205418/http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rsd/rsddocview.html?tbl=RSDCOI&id=4226d98c19&count=1.

      This is the U.S. Department’s official statement on Human Rights Practices in 2004 Syria. Under Freedom of Religion, the 2003 TV show Ash-Shatat (“The Diaspora”) is mentioned. It is noted as an anti-Semitic television series. In the report, it states that “although national television declined to air the program, it was shown on the Lebanese satellite television station Al-Manar”.



Anti-Defamation League. Khaiber Episodes Confirm ADL Concern Over Anti-Semitic Themes. Accessed November 10, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vb_ONEQ4Fk.

      This shows a short clip of the TV Show Khaiber. This scene connects themes of world domination – greed for money, land, and power. It also illuminates Jewish hatred for non-Jews.

“MEMRI: Actors of Arab TV Series Khaybar Make Antisemitic Remarks.” MEMRITV – The Middle East Media Research Institute. Accessed November 10, 2015. http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3902.htm.

      This is a video interview of actors and screenwriters from the TV show Khaybar. Throughout the interviews, anti-Semitic remarks and connections to Jewish conspiracy theories are made. There is a focus on the innate evilness of Jewish human behavior and the historical accuracy of the show. MEMRI cites that these interviews came from various Egyptian channels via the internet March 14 – May 13, 2013.

“Op-Ed: Countering Anti-Semitism in the Month of Ramadan.” Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Accessed November 10, 2015. http://www.jta.org/2013/07/17/news-opinion/opinion/op-ed-countering-anti-semitism-in-the-month-of-ramadan.

      This Op-Ed was written by Rashad Hussain, a U.S. special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In explaining the Anti-Semitism that has risen during Ramadan, Hussain specifically mentiones the TV show Khaiber. He calls that hateful depictions of Muslims should not be the only things addressed during Ramadan, but anti-Semitic series such as Khaiber must also not be tolerated.


Haret al-Yahoud:


Haret El Yahud. Courtesy El Adl Group

 Hashish, Dina. “The Top 6 TV Shows You Should Be Watching This Ramadan.” Scoop Empire. Accessed November 18, 2015. http://scoopempire.com/top-5-tv-shows-ramadan-2015/.

      From June 30th, 2015 the list of top 5 ramadan shows to watch. Among the list is Haret al-Yahoud, and in the description it says: The most anticipated show this year still holds its head up high amongst vicious competitors. Accuse it of being historically inaccurate as much as you want, it is still one of the most viewed and fan favorite shows in Ramadan. Scoop Empire: your middle eastern destination is a popular website for the middle east, and its top TV show polls probably indicate a strong idea of how popular Haret al-Yahoud is among Arab countries.

Khaled, Diab. “Ramadan soap rediscovers Egypt’s Jews.” AlJazeera, June 29th, 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/06/ramadan-soap-rediscovers-egypt-jews-150625094603247.html

      Soap opera called Haret al-Yahoud (Haret el Yahud) airs during Ramadan is about a love twist between Leila, an Egyptian Jew and Muslim Ali who is an Egyptian officer deployed to the Palestine front during the 1948 war. The show is set in Cairo’s Jewish Quarter and is the controversial historical drama that aired in June 2015 in Egypt and across the Arab world.

“Israel Changes Its Mind about Liking ‘Haret Al-Yahoud’ Show.” Al Bawaba. Accessed November 18, 2015. http://www.albawaba.com/entertainment/egyptian-soap-opera-%27the-jewish-quarter%27-israel-changes-its-mind-713274.

      From June 29th, 2015 this article argues that: an Egyptian soap opera aims to dispel prejudice towards the country’s long-vilified and nearly extinct Jewish community – but even as it does so it exhibits hostility towards the Jewish state.

Mehwar Drama. مسلسل حارة اليهودالحلقة الاولى  | Episode 01- Haret El Yahud. Accessed November 18, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FomD2T3jwfA.

      The entire Haret al-Yahoud series is available on youtube via this channel, however so far it is only accessible in Arabic.


Horseman Without A Horse:

Courtesy of MEMRI

Courtesy of MEMRI

“Egypt Airs ‘Anti-Semitic’ Series.” BBC, November 7, 2002, sec. Middle East. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2409591.stm.

      A BBC article discussing the TV show Horseman Without A Horse. The article points out the “sub-plot” using the Protocols on Zion that aims to portray the Jewish conspiracy theory of world domination despite the Egyptian government claiming that the TV show is not offensive to Jews. The article also addresses the plot of the series, its connections to the holocaust, US involvement and the Egyptian government’s stance.

“Egypt Criticised for ‘Anti-Semitic’ Film.” BBC, November 1, 2002, sec. Middle East. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2386767.stm.

      A BBC article discussing the TV show Horseman Without A Horse. This article focuses on the arguments that the show is anti-Semitic, coming from US officials and Jewish organizations. It also provides the counter-arguments from Egyptian officials, the Egyptian government, and the makers of the series.

Horseman Without a Horse. Drama, 2002. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389677/

      This TV series is the only one in this research study that can be found on IMBD.com, the popular movie information website. It was produced by Arab Radio and Televtion (ART). It was released on November 5th, 2002. It is also known as Knight Without A Horse. The writing credits belong to Mohammed Baghdadi and the only listed actor in the cast is Muhammad Subhi.

“Post-Revolutionary Egyptian Al-Tahrir TV Channel Resurrects Controversial 2002 Egyptian Antisemitic TV Series ‘Horseman Without A Horse.’” MEMRI – The Middle East Media Research Institute. Accessed November 10, 2015. http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/6224.htm.

      In 2012, an Egyptian TV channel started airing episodes of the 2002 Horseman Without A Horse. This source includes an article on the TV show Horseman Without A Horse, as well as clips, transcripts, and snapshots of the series. The channel, Al-Tahrir TV “claims to represent the youth of the revolution”.

Raids of Prophet:

“PA TV Teaches Kids: Devil and Jews United against Muhammad – PMW Bulletins.” Accessed September 6, 2016. http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=9879.

PalWatch comments on the newest display of anti-Semitism from the Palestinian Authority, this time in the form of a children’s cartoon show. “If the Muslim world would just let go of their Jew-hatred, expunge the Quran of the Jew-hating texts and let the Jews live. Unending hate from the beginning ….. in 627 AD when Muhammad slaughtered an entire Jewish tribe, this hate, this sickness, has been the fuel of death and war. Enough.” This article offers commentary of specific scenes and texts of the show Raids of The Prophet.

“Palestinian Authority TV Airs Anti-Semitic Cartoon Portraying Jews Conspiring with the Devil (VIDEO).” Algemeiner.com. Accessed September 6, 2016. https://www.algemeiner.com/2013/07/18/palestinian-authority-tv-airs-anti-semitic-cartoon-portraying-jews-conspiring-with-the-devil-video/

The Algemeiner exposes Raids of The Prophet with videos and transcripts from other episodes depicting the anti-Semitism in this children’s cartoon. Unlike Palwatch, the Algemeiner is a multi-function online news source covering topics such as World, Israel, Middle East, Opinion, and Culture. Algemeiner received their sources from MEMRI

General Research:

Webman, Esther. The Global Impact of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: A Century-Old Myth. Routledge, 2012.

      The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a document that has been used to foster anti-Semitism since its birth. Many of the TV shows analyzed in this study have a firm foundation in the Protocols, treating the fabricated document as fact and basing their validity off of it. This book examines the impact of the Protocols in the world, for the purpose of this study the overarching ideas and the chapters focusing on the Middle East are important.

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, The Devil that Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism (Little, Brown and Co., 2013).

This novel elaborates in great detail how anti-Semitism has evolved during globalization. Goldhagen explains how old anti-semitism and new anti-semitism can now be interwoven and showcased in unique new formats. Goldhagen is one of the works that briefly mentions how television can and is serving as a new venue for anti-semitism, but does not go into deep examination in this particular topic.

Ghitis, Frida. End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television. Algora Publishing, 2001.

This book discusses the extreme impact television is having on greater society. While Ghitis, a CNN correspondent, is focused primarily on revolutions, students, and live television – her conclusions are just as important for this study. “She tells us how the new world order smells close up and depicts the faces of globalization — without makeup.” The End of Revolution takes readers all over the world, from the Amazon to Tibet, and dozens of places in between. It describes the crises that have made news in the world in ways that make real sense. Ghitis examines in detail how the news and TV impacts real people in day-to-day life. Discussions of revolutions, certain information being censored, propaganda taking over are all important factors to consider with this study. 

Whitaker, Brian. “Selective Memri.” The Guardian, August 12, 2002, sec. World news. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/aug/12/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker.n.d

      This article questions the validity of MEMRI – the Middle East Media Research Institute. It is a popular source for media content in Arab countries, as it translates Arabic media. A significant amount of my research is from this source. Whitaker argues that the institute is not as independent as it seems, with connections to Israel and Zionism. Issues concern bias, interpreting errors, and only selecting content that serves its purposes (i.e. anti-semitic / anti-zionism).