Lebanon, Syria named worst offenders for antisemitic books at world fair

The Frankfurter Buchmesse, the world's largest publishers' trade fair, prohibits antisemitic materials, yet each year such books are found.

Frankfurt mayor Uwe Becker and Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations Shimon Samuels at the 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair. (photo credit: SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE)
Frankfurt mayor Uwe Becker and Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations Shimon Samuels at the 2019 Frankfurt Book Fair.
Lebanon and Syria have been jointly handed the Simon Wiesenthal Center's (SWC's) "2020 Worst Offender Award" for promoting antisemitic content at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest publishing trade fair of its kind worldwide.
This is the 18th year that the SWC has monitored the Frankfurter Buchmesse, known as the "Olympics of Book Fairs," to which 300,000 visitors flock annually. The fair features 7,500 regular exhibitors from 105 countries.
“We normally monitor over 300 stands at the Book Fair for antisemitic and other hate-mongering volumes, denouncing the delinquent publishers to the Frankfurter Buchmesse authorities for contravention of their contractual obligations to the Fair. Indeed, several recidivists are in violation of German law,” said Dr. Shimon Samuels, the center’s director for international relations.
“Our findings at seven Arab Book Fairs in the months leading up to Frankfurt are shared with the Fair to decide on warning or even blacklisting. Such literature on display at these Fairs can radicalize and even incite to terrorism," Samuels added, citing a book titled Buraq Wall which claims that the Western Wall is an Islamic site which has been appropriated by the Jews.
This year, the fair is not convening in person due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but the publishers who regularly attend have instead supplied online lists of their products on offer. SWC has worked off the lists supplied by the most regular offenders when it comes to distributing antisemitic materials, but warn that the titles they uncovered are likely to only be the tip of the iceberg.
Lebanese publisher Dar Al Nafaes included in its catalog the notorious antisemitic tract The Protocols of Zion, as well as Blood for the Matzos of Zion, by Naguib al-Kilani, and From Judaism to Zionism, by Dr. As'ad el-Sahramany. The synopsis for the latter on the website reads: "The importance of the book, and at this particular time, is that it exposes the faith of the Jews, reveals the falsity of their historical claims, and explains their satanic methods of employing religion... a clear idea of the conventions of Jews, their groups, their beliefs, their view of women, their holidays, their morals, their religious books, in the service of their Zionist political projects."
The SWC notes that Lebanon is often used as a cover for Syrian publishers.
There were two publishers from Syria displaying problematic content: Mamdouh Adwan Publishing included in its catalog a book titled Judaization of Knowledge, by Mamdouh Adwan, while Dar Ghar Hira's list featured two antisemitic titles: The Day of Wrath, by Safar bin Abdul-Rahman al-Hawali, which was presented as: "A treatise on the Second Intifada, entitled The Day of Wrath, arguing that the Biblical prophecies used by Christian fundamentalists to support the State of Israel actually predict its destruction," and Is Judaism a Heavenly Religion? by Abd Elmajjid Hemo.
Iran was given a runner-up award by the SWC for being a repeat offender when it comes to incitement materials. This year, three Iranian publishers were displaying antisemitic materials: The Alhoda International Cultural Artistic Publishing Institution was promoting The International Jew by American financier Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. According to the publisher's description (translated from Farsi), "Henry Ford, a well-known American financier, industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company in the years after World War I, commissioned a group of leading scholars to study various aspects of 'international Jewry.' He published the group's research findings in the 1920s. Ford's research showed how the Jews intend to influence world developments based on the plans and programs outlined in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This book describes... how the Jews influenced American politics, the arts of cinema, theater and music. The economic power of the Jews in the United States is another part of this book."
Omide Sokhan Teheran's catalog featured a book titled Why did Hitler kill the Jews? by Babak Mostafavi, which is described by the publisher as "a book that examines in a completely historical and expert way the reason for Hitler's enmity and hatred of Jews. This book gives practical and historical answers to many of your questions."
Meanwhile, Vijeh Nashr Co. International Book and Journal Services Tehran represents several Arab publishers at the fair, including the constantly antisemitic Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi of Egypt, according to SWC.
"The Frankfurt Book Fair must not be abused as a vector for bigotry. We look forward in the hope that the Fair will one day be completely hate-free,” concluded Samuels.