|More song and dance from Egypt- caught and forced to dance a little dance of mea culpa:
Special Dispatch - Egypt/Arab Antisemitism Documentation Project
March 2, 2004
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Al-Ahram on the Aftermath of a MEMRI Report about the Display of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' at the Alexandria Library
On December 3, 2003, MEMRI released a report(1) from the Egyptian weekly Al-Usbu' about a display at the Alexandria Library in Egypt of 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' as an authentic document, placed next to the Torah in an exhibit on Jewish books, as well as a high-ranking museum official's accompanying antisemitic comments. Following MEMRI's report, the museum came under pressure, including strong criticism from the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which conducted a visit to the library and confirmed the display of the Protocols, as well as its subsequent removal.
Written in advance of a conference being hosted March 12-14 at the library on the subject of reform in the Arab world,(2) the following are excerpts from an article from the February 19-24, 2004 issue of the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly about the aftermath of MEMRI's report:(3)
The Removal of a Display of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'
"In the short period since its inauguration on 16 October 2002, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina has become an important force for the promotion of rationality, scientific outlook, and enlightened values in Egypt and the region. It has received over 750,000 visitors and organised an amazing 250 events in its first year. The common thread running through all these lectures, conferences, exhibits, and events is the promotion of the values of tolerance, openness to the other, dialogue, and understanding.
"But the truly interesting story is that it has become a rallying point for Egyptian intellectuals who believe in these values. In an unprecedented situation hundreds of writers, intellectuals, and academics signed a declaration to defend the library from the charges of a rabble of extremists who had been attacking the library and the values for which it stands. The attacks appeared in some newspapers, and even in parliament, where fundamentalist representatives decried what in their view was the subservience of the library's management to pressures from the U.S. and Israel.
"The incident that started it all was the display of a copy of the first edition of the Arabic translation of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' in a special showcase devoted to rotating exhibits of curiosities from the library's collection.
"An irresponsible local newspaper, doubtless trying to spice up its pages, misrepresented the facts and claimed that the book was headlining an exhibit at the library of Alexandria and that it was being displayed next to the Torah. The paper also claimed that a senior official at the library had stated that the book was more important than the Torah. The paper, which has a very small circulation, was widely ignored, until the article was translated into Hebrew and published in Israel, and into English and picked up by MEMRI in New York [sic].(4) Protests swept the Internet and angry or disbelieving questions were heard from many, many quarters."
Director of the Library Responds
"This prompted Dr. Ismail Serageldin, the director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, to issue a statement on 6 December, 2002 [sic].(5) Posted on the library's Web site as of 6 December 2003, it reads as follows:
"Public statement by Ismail Serageldin: 'Recent press reports concerning the presence of the first Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in an exhibition in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina deserve a prompt and clear reply.'
"'Preliminary investigations determined that the book was briefly displayed in a showcase devoted to rotating samples of curiosities and unusual items in our collections. The book was never displayed alongside the Jewish Torah, nor has it ever been stated that it is a holy book or the basis for a Jewish constitution. The book is well-known as a 19th century fabrication to foment anti-Jewish feelings.'
"'The book was promptly withdrawn from public display, but its very inclusion showed bad judgment and insensitivity, and an internal administrative review is underway to determine whether further actions are to be taken.'
"'The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is profoundly committed to its role as a centre of learning and a place promoting tolerance, dialogue, and understanding between peoples, cultures, and civilisations. We are honoured to work with distinguished international partners in promoting these universal ideals.'"
After Removing Protocols, Library is Accused of 'Disloyalty'
"Incidentally, the administrative review suggested that henceforth proposed