As Cairo book fair opens, Israel expresses concern over persistent antisemitism
Works at state-run event have included Mein Kampf and Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with a new book on the history of Zionism showing hook-nosed Jews on its cover
Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter
Israel expressed concern on Monday over antisemitic books being sold at Egypt’s state-run book fair.
“We are worried about the persistence of antisemitic features in Egyptian society,” read a statement from the Foreign Ministry, “that are expressed in books published and presented in the Cairo International Book Fair.”
A particularly egregious example is a new book on the history of Zionism, its cover featuring caricatures of hook-nosed Jewish men rubbing their hands together as they appear to plot against Egypt.
The work, first reported by Kan public broadcaster, also has menorahs, Jewish stars, and a map of the world behind the figures on the cover.
Ostensible Jewish plans to dominate the world is a classic antisemitic trope.
The book was written by Muhamed Medhat Mustafa, an Alexandria-based academic.
Israel also included positive sentiment in its statement.
“We are determined to continue our efforts to strengthen the cooperation with our Egyptian partners in a way that will strengthen the peace, stability, and security,” the Foreign Ministry said, “and in parallel also the fight against antisemitism.”
The Cairo event is the Arab world’s oldest and largest book fair.
It has made headlines in recent years for other antisemitic works, including multiple editions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Henry Ford’s The International Jew, and lesser-known but equally pernicious works on the Talmud, the Holocaust and the Rothschild family.
Despite outreach to Egyptian officials by the Anti-Defamation League, and a 2020 letter by ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the same antisemitic titles continue to appear at the annual government-organized event.
The fair has also been accused of censorship against views critical of the government and against Islamists.
Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement in 1979 but relations have been mostly frosty, though the governments have maintained close security ties in recent years. The countries share security interests in the Gaza Strip as well as in Sinai and the eastern Mediterranean, but most Egyptians reject ties with Israel.
Egypt regularly mediates between Israel and Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and shares a border with Egypt.
Though Cairo condemned National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount earlier this month, relations between the regional powers remain stable.
An unnamed Egyptian official told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat news outlet that his country views Israel as being currently led by “two governments” — an extremist one at home and a more moderate one representing Israel in its relations abroad.