ADL calls on Egypt, Oman to remove antisemitic books from state-run fairs

Between December 2018 and December 2019 the ADL monitored state-run book fairs across the Arab world, and found a number of egregiously antisemitic books.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) attends the opening ceremony of the 50th Cairo International Book Fair in Cairo, Egypt, January 22, 2019, (photo credit: COURTESY OF THE EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY)
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) attends the opening ceremony of the 50th Cairo International Book Fair in Cairo, Egypt, January 22, 2019,
The Anti-Defamation League has called on the governments of Egypt and Oman to remove a number of antisemitic books from sale in state-run book fairs held in Cairo and Muscat.
US-allied governments across the Arab world are providing a "stamp of legitimacy" for antisemitic texts "of the worst kind," the organization said, following an in-depth survey of books on offer at state-run book fairs across the region. The review led the ADL to determine that the "vast majority" of the events "have provided a platform for egregiously antisemitic reading materials, among other content," the organization said in a statement online.
Between December 2018 and December 2019, ADL monitored the online catalogues of a number of state-run book fairs, including in Cairo (Egypt), Doha (Qatar), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Kuwait City (Kuwait), Muscat (Oman) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).
"In every one of these instances, the events listed numerous examples of antisemitic books through their online platforms and apparently on site as well," the ADL said.
At the 2020 Cairo International Book Fair, a private publisher holding a stall at the fair offered titles claiming that there is a secret Illuminati plot to take over the world, dominated by lizard people and Jewish money. The same publisher hosted a book signing at the event for a book titled Hidden World Government 10: Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Masonic Plots to Control the World.
“Even as Egypt was setting an example by publicly celebrating the history of Jews in that country with the restoration of Alexandria’s historic synagogue, their state-sponsored book fair continued to legitimize antisemitism by peddling some of history’s most dangerous antisemitic tracts,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We are calling on the government to take action now to ensure that such hateful materials are not exhibited again.”
The Cairo fair ended earlier this month, but the ADL has written to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to urge him to take action to ensure that these and similar titles will not be available at the Alexandria International Book Fair in April, and other similar events.
Similarly, the ADL has written to the Sultan of Oman, calling upon him to remove antisemitic books from sale at the Muscat International Book Fair, which runs until March 2.
Both authorities were informed by the ADL ahead of these events that antisemitic tracts, in both Arabic and English, would be available for purchase. 
However, it praised Qatar for taking note of its warnings, removing nearly all antisemitic content from its 2020 book fair, assuming that the online catalogue presented a fair representation of what was available on site. 
"It appears that Doha made the right choice in this one issue area when confronted with the relevant concerns," the ADL said.
Nonetheless, titles including the Protocols of Zion, a notorious 19th century forgery purporting to tell of a Jewish plot to control the world, Hitler's Mein Kampf and an adaptation of the Protocols titled The International Jew were among the antisemitic tracts commonly on sale at these and similar events throughout the region.
Other titles included The Jews: A Caravan of Evil in History, Talmud of Secrets… Facts Exposing the Jewish Plots to Control the World, The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers, Theodore Herzl: The Zionist Devil and Satan of the Modern Age and Blood for the Matzah of Zion.
At the Kuwait City Book Fair held in November 2019, the ADL found that some copies of Mein Kampf and The International Jew were listed on the online catalogue under Children's Books.
The ADL acknowledged that some of the titles may be of interest to scholars, but added that even in these cases, book sellers had a duty to inform their clientele that the titles were bigoted and inaccurate, "which is not happening in these cases," they said.
And while accepting that the governments may not be seeking to promote antisemitism, they argued: "at the very least they lack an understanding of antisemitic stereotypes and historical context necessary to identify those books that are unacceptable for sale under official auspices."
"Governments throughout the region have a legal, moral, and strategic duty not to exhibit such content at their state-run book fairs," the ADL noted, adding, "And in the meantime, US officials and civil society must continue to speak out."