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(Some) Arab Twitterers use anti-Semitic tag in discussing J14

On Saturday evening, I tweeted a couple of pictures I took at the mass social justice (J14) rally in Tel Aviv. Both drew their inspiration from the Arab uprising – one ordering Prime Minister Netanyahu “GO (in Arabic), this is Egypt,” and the other one, aimed to lift the spirits of the crowd, saying “Walk like an Egyptian.”

Sign saying "Go, Egypt is here" in Tel Aviv rally, August 6, 2011 (photo: Noam Sheizaf)

(Haaretz’s Yossi Verter reported that Netanyahu was clearly offended by the protesters comparing him to Egypt’s Husni Mubarak.)

Sign in Tel Aviv rally, August 6, 2011 (photo: Noam Sheizaf)

I liked those signs. They showed that even in a country  that has been dominated by an Islamophobic, anti-Arab tones, and despite of all the security establishment’s warnings about the possible outcomes of removing “friendly” dictators like Mubarak from power, many Israelis identified in an almost instinctive way with the message of hope and freedom in the Arab uprising. It tells you something about the human spirit.

The higher you climb, the deeper the fall is. After a while, I saw that several of the Arab users—mainly Egyptians—who re-tweeted my pictures used the hashtag #thawretweladalkalb. For those who don’t know Twitter, hashtags are meta-tags which allow twitter users to see all the messages on a certain topic.

Thawret Welada-l-Kalb is Arabic “revolution of the sons of dogs.” This is nothing to do with politics – it’s pure anti-Semitism. One of the people using this hashtag tried to explain that he meant Zionist, not Jews in general. Naturally, I don’t buy this, just as you won’t accept an explanation from an Israeli who said “death to all Arabs”, but then clarified he only meant Hamas supporters. Micro-managing your racism only makes things worse.

Yet, at the same time, there were Arabs Twitter users who denounced this hashtag, calling it racist and shameful. And as always in such cases, some of the clearest voices came from Palestinians.

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    1. Magued

      The guy denounced that hashtag @DioscorusBoles is a Copt not Arab nor Muslim, the Palestinian Viva Palestine @AbirKopty who denounce it also her last name is Kopty which mean Coptic…

      Reply to Comment
    2. this is perhaps splitting hairs, and by no means do I mean to defend use of that disgusting hashtag, but “death to all Arabs” is actually more explicitly racist and targeted than “revolution of the sons of dogs”, which, while it may indeed be directed at Zionists and not all world Jewry, is stupid and hateful.

      Reply to Comment
    3. @Shahaf: technically you are probably right, yet it’s these debates on levels of hate-talk which I don’t like to conduct.

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    4. You are doing the same thing by using the headline “Arab twitters”. There are idiots among the human race. It’s not because they are Arabs that they write these tweets, it’s because they are idiots. They could have been from any other national, religious or ethnic persuasion.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Sorry, I was writing my comment when Shahaf and you reacted. That pretty much covers my critique.

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    6. @Engelbert: We report extensively on racist Israelis here. Should we ignore them too?
      These were my tweets that got this hashtag, I was offended, why shouldn’t I write about it?

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    7. @Noam
      Of course you can be offended. You should be. My point is that you could leave out the Arabs. Some people react that way. Be offended at that, not at their being Arab. That has little to do with it.

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    8. As you say “We report extensively on racist Israelis here”. And then you mention they are settlers or religious fantics. You don’t refer to them as Jews in general.

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    9. Deïr Yassin

      “It’s pure anti-semitism”.
      I’m not trying to excuse the use of these insults, but sometimes I think this ‘anti-semitic’-libel is pushed a little too far.
      Why can’t you just stick to “pure anti-Israeli”.
      It’s not that the Egyptians have any particular reason to love Israel and the Israelis, it’s not that other people in the world who have conflicts with their non-Jewish neighbours never call them ‘son of a bitch’ or whatever, and it’s not that the surrounding Arab populations would have appreciated it more if the people who took over Palestine and made war on them for the last 63 years had been Japanese or Maoris.
      Noam, your country is not hated for being Jewish, but for what it’s doing.

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    10. Last try: If some settler killed a Palestinian for racist reasons, would you use the headline “Jews killed a Palestinian”?

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    11. @ENGELBERT 500k settlers would argue that you generalize against them too.
      Still, as I wrote, this is by no means to reflect on all Arabs.

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    12. Sam Smith

      @Magued: Abir Kopty is a Palestinian Israeli.

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    13. Noam W

      I can’t stand these last name arguments – they are so idiotic. My last name is Wiener, before WWII, my family has been in Poland as far as memory serves, absolutely no contact with Vienna or Austria. Other than “Deir Yassin”, are you really going to say that I have no right to be Israeli, or that somebody whose last name is Cohen has more of a right?

      How about somebody called Berliner, does Margalit Tzanaani have less of a right to be Israeli than a Palestinian called Masri. Give it up it isn’t about last names.

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    14. @Noam
      Well I think it is not wise to do this. This is exactly what Netanyahu and in my case Geert Wilders want to hear. It triggers guilt by association, while in reality it has nothing to do with ethnicity; in all groups there are racists and thugs. We should address them as such, not as members of any group.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Deïr Yassin

      @ Noam Wiener
      Instead of asking “does Margalit Tzanaani have less of a right to be Israeli than a Palestinian called Masri’, the question is “do European immigrants have more right to live in that area than people who’ve been living there for centuries ?” or “Is the Jewish Law of Return more right than the Palestinian Right of Return ?”
      You’re totally right: it’s not about last names, it’a about how you settled down in the area and at the expense of what other persons …

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    16. I think it is way past time to cease using the term ‘anti-Semitic’.

      It grossly misrepresents the nature of most of the people who’ve immigrated to Palestine over the last century, just as it mysteriously appropriates from the original inhabitants of Palestine – all of whom spoke Semitic languages – a key part of their identity.

      It is a term that is little more than a century old and it has done much more harm than good. I use ‘anti-Semitism’ only within inverted commas to highlight the artificiality of the term and my refusal to accept it as appropriate. I wish others would do the same.

      As for “sons of dogs”, I’d call that rude language. There’s lots of it around. Check out some Zionist bulletin boards.

      If anyone is surprised at the existence of some anti-Israeli sentiment among the Egyptian population they must have been living in cloisters. Needless to say, Egyptians do have a rational basis for disliking the Zionist entity, as do many people around the world. I refuse to empower it by using language designed to disadvantage opponents of Zionism.

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    17. Nada

      It’s not anti-Semitic, it’s anti-Israeli. In other words, it’s a characterization made on national rather than ethnic lines. I personally found it funny more because of what it said about Egyptian humor than about Israelis. Some of the tweets were making fun of the Egyptian media i.e. wondering whether in Israel the protests were being blamed on Egyptian spies (as the reverse was true here) etc. I would encourage you to take it in the non-serious spirit it was intended.

      That said, a lot of the stuff on there was really malicious and I apologize. While I would discourage using some idiots on twitter as an example of any wider sentiment, I’m sure it’s not news to you that Egyptians hate Israel.

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    18. Hanan

      Why do you suppose that israel here represents jews of the world? #ThawretWeladElkalb is absolutely directed towards occupiers, doesn’t have to do with being jewish or not. Occupiers whom a generation after the other has been seeing for decades without being to able to kick them out.. but one day we will 🙂

      It is YOU who makes the confusion.. on purpose 🙂 just to make it sound like “eww, those Arabs are so anti-Jewish.. see, world, how poor we are”! when in fact, we have no problem whatsoever with Jews from any part of the world.. but we do have it when it comes to Israel.

      Good Luck with the #ThawretWeladElkalb 😉

      Reply to Comment
    19. i’m a muslim and i support u against bibi either way, i hate all right wings, full of hatred but i know they never represent the majority, anyway, some lies have been spreading about the protests wanting more occupation mainly by the brotherhood media , and if we get a signal that you want peace i really doubt anyone will be able to attack you

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    20. weinstein henry

      Deïr Yassin, Noam tells you his family lived in Poland before World War 2, and you, you sneer: “it’s not about your name, it’s about how you settled down in the area and at the expenses of what other persons”.
      Shame on you, Blind Propagandist.
      PS: Taoïst is waiting for your answer.

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    21. Sam Smith

      @Syd: You’re free to invent your own language, but in English antisemitism doesn’t “appropriate” anything from the Palestinians, since it doesn’t refer to them.
      And since the protests don’t include just Zionists, but also Palestinian Israelis and Non-Zionist Jews, using “sons of dogs” is particularly ridiculous.

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    22. Rico

      I think reporting on anti-semitism is crucially important in seeing the whole problem. Nor is there any thing wrong with IDing them as Arab in the article, as one would often refer to anyone else by their nationality or origin if it were not clear. my only criticism is that the use of “Arab” in the title of the article seems to suggest that the issue here is one of balance in apportioning blame–“we usually report on stuff that makes israel look bad, so let’s have a shot at the other guys too”. i don’t think that’s why you posted this, but i think the post invites idiotic comments from people who chose this moment to unload on why it bugs them when people bring up anti-semitism. which is a shame, because taken together your report is substantial and meaningful.

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    23. Jalal

      I had one thing to note,
      The first comment on this piece simply made me laugh. Magued said that one guy “Coptic” denounced the use of this tag, and so did Abir Kopty whos name refers to her being coptic christian and not muslim.
      The guy who wrote this comment is even more racist, is my public denunciation of this hashtag, and my attempts to lecture people into not using it, not recognized because I’m a muslim Arab.
      Magued, get over your prejudice and open your eyes to the world. Bigoted minds wont survive.
      I myself succeeding in getting one famous figure into revising his whole timeline and removing tweets with this hashtag because he didn’t fully understand what it meant when he first put it.

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    24. Salwah

      Nobody wants to face the fact that the Palestinians have played their cards and LOST. Arab Israelis are part of the movement now but as far as I can tell the Israelis are done focusing their energy on the Palestinians. Why do you think their is an economic crisis? B/c Israelis have had to put all of their energy into the military. Truth- they are fed up.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Deïr Yassin

      @ Weinstein
      Thanks for monitoring my comments.
      Why don’t you try to manipulate what I wrote and what I actually adressed, just a little more: You might get a job with Sammy Ghozlan !
      An since you call me a blind propagandist, I deduce that you as a French Jews think you have more right to live in Israel (former Palestine) than someone whose family was expelled from there, that the Jewish Law of Return is before the Palestinian Right of Return, endorsed by the UN resolution 194 though.
      I prefer being a ‘blind propagandist’ rather than an ethnic supremacist.

      Just in case: the ‘you’ in English is also an equivalent of the French ‘on’.

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    26. Palestinian

      Anti-semitic ? are they even semites?! Listen , lets be clear , this accusation can be used well there in Europe but it cant be used in the heart of the semitic world ,right.
      A Russian Jew cant accuse Arabs of anti-semtisim, kteeer hak ya Noam ….
      The comments were referring to Israelis not all the Jews , while saying “death to all Arabs” means all the Arabs as All

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    27. Heba

      This isn’t antisemitic at all, it is a clear case of anti-Zionism. Though I personally hate insults specially when some ppl are asking for their natural rights, but again it has nothing to do with their religion, it is with their ideology that allowed them to usurp a whole rights and then ask for theirs!

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    28. Sylvia

      -‘Irhal” means more than just “go” in this context. It means “get out”, “get lost”.
      ‘sons of dogs” is neither anti-semitic nor anti-Zionist. It is an Islamic reference to the non-Muslim who in the Coran is compared to a dog who “lolls out his tongue” whether you attack him or leave him alone.
      So yes, it is related in part to J14.
      It didn’t take me long using google to locate the verse:

      7:176 If it had been Our will, We should have elevated him with Our signs; but he inclined to the earth, and followed his own vain desires. His similitude is that of a dog: if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls out his tongue. That is the similitude of those who reject Our signs; So relate the story; perchance they may reflect.

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    29. Deïr Yassin

      Sylvia, our specialist in Islam, of course also has an explanation to the well-known “son of a bitch” (a bitch being a female dog’).
      I guess according to Sylvia, it’s just a translation from Arabic, and the proof of the Islamic expansion.
      This kind of comments are much more xenophobic that these comments on Twitter: Essentialising everything said and done by Muslims.
      Imagine if everytime a settler killed a Palestinian kid, or the Border police gunned down an ‘infiltrator’, we started scrutinizing the Talmud, Torah, Tanach, or whatever to find the source of their violence.
      Irhal !

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    30. Sylvia

      Dear Yassin,
      I am not a specialist in Islam, but I am a specialist in comparing texts. A text -even a tweet – always has a context.
      Now frankly, if they had said sons of bitches as an insult, you think it would have gone viral? No, the context is what made it funny to its initiator and probably even funnier when Jews and Christian anti-Zionists are the ones retweeting it. Now I think THAT is funny.

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    31. Borg

      Noam, if you had never sent out that tweet, you wouldnt have to recall it like you are. It is like the old story on gossip. A man felt remorse about slandering another man. The victim told the slanderer to take a pillow of feathers, and distribute them to the wind. The slanderer thought- wow, that was easy. Then the victim of the slandered said-now go gather the feathers. Get my drift?

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    32. weinstein henry

      Deïr Yassin, first point, if according to you “the ‘you’ in English is also an equivalent of the French ‘on’, then one must be very careful with whom you are speaking and what one is depicting…
      Second point, you don’t answer for real as usual: “Noam tells you his family lived in Poland before World War 2”, that’s what I said, right? And you, for the second time, Blind Propagandist, you chose to ignore IT, preferring to write another automatic (ideo)logical deduction.
      So, third point, you write: “And since you call me a blind propagandist I deduce that you as a French Jew think you have more right to live in Israel (former Palestine) than someone whose family was expelled from there”. Then, you deduce (again) that I must be “an ethnic supremacist”.
      Fortune-telling, now!
      Just a few facts, Deïr Yassin:
      1. I never been in Israel.
      2. I have no family (to my knowledge) in Israel.
      3. I have no property (real estate) in Israel.
      4. I’m not a businessman defending his right to party in Tel-Aviv.
      5. My (life-long) love is Iranian (and most of her non-jewish family still lives in Iran, in the north-east).
      6. My mother is Catholic.
      7. My Dad was the only Jew (“Israélite!”, would say proudly my mother) in my very “France profonde” family.
      8. Nowadays my living family is mixed-up & Arab Friendly at the image of France today, and I like it.
      It’s just a digest, Deïr Yassin.
      Real life is much more intricate and sensitive than (ideo)logical deductions. For instance, my mother learned to cook a lot of Middle-Eastern recipes the first years of her marriage: it was quite unusual in Burgundy in the 50-60s, but it took me years to understand it, being in Istanbul for the first time and feeling incredibly well, at home, long before I learned that my grandfather came from the Marmara sea area.
      Last thing, most Jews living today in Israel were expelled from Arab countries after the war against Israel in 1948. I don’t say this to deny the Nabka, but because Egyptians and others seem to have forgotten what they have done to their Jews.

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    33. Carrie

      I’m so shocked.

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    34. Magued

      The “some” Arab Twitterers are the majority wile it’s only two who denounced it..

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    35. Deïr Yassin

      @ Weinstein
      You don’t have to tell me your lifestory.
      My question to you was based on pure principles just as my answer to Noam Wiener.
      Maybe you should read his questions and my answer once again.
      Whether his family comes from Poland, China or Morocco makes no difference: the (moral) question is whether, as now, all Jews, even the guy who converted yesterday, have the right to settle down in the State of Israel whereas the descendants of the more than 80% of the Palestinian population who fled or was expelled in ’48, are not allowed to return to their land – as it’s preconised in the resolution 194 and promised by Abba Eban in front of the ad hoc commission prior to Israel’s admission to the UN in May 1949. The resolution 194 has been confirmed more than 130 times in the UN.
      That’s what I care about, not whether you Mum cooks Middle Eastern food or not.
      Your “most Jews living in Israel today were expelled from the Arab countries” shows your lack of knowledge. Each case was different, the Moroccan case had nothing to do with the Egyptian situation which had nothing to do with the Yemeni. The expulsions were rather the exception than the rule.Not to forget that many of the Arab countries were still under foreign rule when the Jews started leaving for Israel. I know Jews who left Morocco in the ’90s, due to the economic recession, and though the Jewish Agency was very persuasive, they went to Canada.
      I have a friend who’s writng her thesis on the changing Israeli propaganda: it started with ‘a land without people for a people without land’ to the ‘Arabs refused partition and the Jews accepted’, ‘7 Arab armies invaded the newborn state’ etc. They have all been debunked – also by the New Historians within Israel – and the latest Hasbara talking point is “1.000.000 Jews were expelled from the Arab world”.
      Those were not expelled:
      Extract from Eyal Sivan & Michel Kleifi’s film “Route 181” (Hebrew, subtitled in French):
      Or this hero of the Tunisian fight for national independance? Georges Adda, father of Serge Adda, former director of TV5Monde, both buried in the Jewish cemetery of Tunis. May God have mercy upon their souls:

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    36. Abu Shaar

      “Before working as a journalist, I served four and a half years in the IDF” and you’re taking people to task for #thawretweladalkalb?

      Un freaking believable

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    37. Harvey Weinstein, I am enjoying your comments very much.

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    38. abed

      I am anti-semitic and I am proud. What the hell does is it mean to be anti-semitic. In my book it is only defending Israel because myself an arab is a semitic. So stop your wining, be anti-semitic like me and one day you will be proud you were anti Israel

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    39. Of course it’s not antisemitic to call Israeli Jews “sons of dogs”. As it is not antisemitic for Muslims to call all Jews “sons of apes and pigs” and rally around the imperative to annihilate them. It is a perfectly legitimate criticism of Israeli policies vis a vis Palestinians, of course, not antisemitism.

      Ask Prof. AbuKhalil (AKA Angry Arab. All Jews who are Isralis are murderers who kill Arabs for fun. So calling them merely “sons of dogs” is really a sign of the wonderful magnanimity and hilarious wit of the Egyptian bloggers.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Deïr Yassin

      @ Noga
      “…for Muslims to call all Jews “sons of pigs and dogs”
      Another avid fan of MEMRI, I see.

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    41. Noga


      Indeed. I am also an avid reader of Prof. Abukhalil’s News Service which provides a similar service as MEMRI, only more so. One gets an unmediated unmitigated glimpse into the workings of the Arab mindset, priorities, aspirations, and what passes for information and truth. A wonderful source for anyone interested in learning about such things.

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    42. Deïr Yassin

      Oh, is there such a thing as “the workings of the Arab mindset”. I see, you’ve even been reading the racialist Raphael Patai.
      I thought such ideas had been abandoned a long time ago….among ‘civilized people’ at least.
      I guess listening/reading to Dov Lior, Yossef Ovadia, “The King’s Torah-crap” or scumbags as Arieh Eldad or Michael Ben-Ari gives a look into the “Jewish” mindset.
      Pathetic !

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    43. Noga


      Never heard of Rafael Patai. And you are welcome to try to define a “Jewish mindset” on a blog like this one. Can you point to a blog with this “972+” mindset on the Arab side?

      When you stated the following:

      “I’m not trying to excuse the use of these insults, but sometimes I think this ‘anti-semitic’-libel is pushed a little too far.”

      were you trying to tell and instruct the Jews who comment here that they do not really know an antisemitic slur when they see it? Were you not trying to excuse the insults to all Israelis as “sons of dogs”?

      When you mentioned MEMRI, were you trying to suggest that the Islamic phrase “sons of apes and pigs” was manufactured by MEMRI and does not really resonate in the Arab/Muslim street in exactly the same way that “sons of dogs” did for the Egyptian twitters?

      Do you think the Egyptians, whose revolution is going down the drain, are really in any position to snigger at Israeli democracy?

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    44. Noga

      This is good news:

      “The Department announced today a grant of $200,000 to MEMRI:

      “The Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor awarded a $200,000 grant to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) to conduct a project that documents anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and Holocaust glorification in the Middle East. This grant will enable MEMRI to expand its efforts to monitor the media, translate materials into ten languages, analyze trends in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and glorification, and increase distribution of materials through its website and other outlets.”


      Reply to Comment
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