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EGYPT/ Hulsman (Arab-West Report): how bad reporting guides the Arab Spring

Dutch sociologist and expert on Egypt CORNELIS HULSMAN comments on the anti-Jewish hatred present in Egypt, on the effects of the Arab Spring, and on his plans and hopes for the future.

Tahrir Square in Cairo Tahrir Square in Cairo

In a video that has gone around the world in the last couple of days, an Egyptian actor, Ayman Kandell, in a candid camera prank, was told that he was on an Israeli talk show. Getting increasingly angry, he finally physically attacked the “producer” and “anchorwoman” violently, before being told that it was all a joke. IlSussidiario.net contacted Cornelis Hulsman, a Dutch sociologist who has been living in Egypt and is the editor in chief of Arab-West Report, to comment on the anti-Israel hatred present in Egypt. He blames the “selective reporting” of the media, and emphasizes the importance of one-on-one dialogue and on creating connections, stating that, “with individuals it is always easier”, and “even in the Freedom and Justice Party, there are people who are open to discussion”.

What do you think this video tells us about the opinion of the general Egyptian public about the Israelis?

The general opinion in Egypt is very favorable toward the Palestinians, so anything that is reported goes in that direction. I have been checking the Egyptian media recently about the attack on the Israeli bus in Bulgaria and I found that, in Al-Ahram, there was only one report, reprinted from AFP, and otherwise there was nothing. Thus, it is biased, giving information about every act of violence against Palestinians, but giving very little information about any attacks on Israelis. The media highlights certain aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while other aspects remain underreported. One cannot say that it is unreported, since they did report about the bus attack, but it is underreported, and this leads to sentiments like the one of the actor.

In Egypt, apparently Kandell’s act has been interpreted positively, as an act of patriotism…

I remember about a year ago when there was a demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, and one young Egyptian climbed to the top and was able to take down the Israeli flag. This too was interpreted as an act of patriotism. Unfortunately, this is due to the way that the Egyptian public is informed.

So, do you think that attitudes towards Jews have changed in Egypt since the Arab Spring, or was this hatred already present before?