Politics & Policy

The Royal Treatment

Anti-Semitism, that is.

The Saudi royal family has been on the forefront of espousing an extreme position of hatred toward Jews, influencing the kingdom’s educational system, media, and mosques, as well as its foreign and domestic policy.

In its first attempt to attract tourists to the country, Saudi Arabia’s tourist commission, under the control of Prince Sultan bin Abd Al-Aziz launched an official website in March 2004. The website listed those not allowed into the kingdom: “Israeli passport holders or those whose passport has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp; those who do not abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behavior; those under the influence [of alcohol]; and Jewish people.”

The Saudi embassy’s Washington, D.C. spokesman, Nail Al-Jubeir, said he was “stunned” when he saw the website; and the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, said he was “embarrassed.” According to a press release by the Saudi embassy, “the information on the website was not correct and as a consequence the erroneous material was removed.”

The ambassador’s father, Prince Sultan, who serves as secretary general of the tourism commission, said in a statement that the controversy was “blown out of all proportions” by U.S. media seeking to portray the kingdom as anti-Semitic. He added, “…It is all part of a smear campaign meant to tarnish Saudi Arabia’s image.”

Prince Sultan–who is also second deputy prime minister, defense and aviation minister, and inspector general of Saudi Arabia–has been making statements against Jews for years. Following a ceremony at the Saudi Public Institution for Military Industries in June 2002, when asked about U.S. criticism of Saudi Arabia, Prince Sultan replied to the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, “It is enough to see a number of congressmen wearing Jewish yarmulkes to explain the allegations against us.” More recently, the Saudi royal family website ’Ain-Al-Yaqeen, quoted Prince Sultan as saying that the U.S. media, which is “under the Jewish influence,” is using the U.S. reform initiative to widen the gap between Arab countries and the U.S.

Saudi Minister of the Interior Prince Naif bin Abd Al-Aziz, Sultan’s brother, has also made accusations against the Jews. In what has since become an infamous interview reported in Ain-Al-Yaqeen a year after 9/11, Naif explained that Arabs were not involved in the attacks: “We put big question marks and ask who committed the events of September 11 and who benefited from them. Who benefited from events of 9/11? I think they [the Jews] are behind these events.”

Saudi kings have also been known for holding extreme anti-Semitic views. Saudi Princess Fahda bint Saud ibn Abd Al-Aziz–who’s been described as “the daughter of King Saud and the historian of her father’s reign” and who appears occasionally in the Saudi media–has written that her father’s views on the Jews and Israel still serve as inspiration for the Arab and Muslim world. In one article, she explained that King Saud called the Jewish state a deadly disease that would never be accepted by Arabs. “…King Saud made the right diagnosis: ‘The Zionist threat is like cancer–in dealing with it neither medicine nor surgery will do any good.’ This royal statement was meant to emphasize that the Arabs do not, and will not, accept an Israeli state amidst them.” The article added that under the leadership of King Saud, the Saudi Representative to the U.N. called for the establishment of a U.N. agency “to help resettle Jews [now in Israel] in their former European homes.”

The late King Faisal was also notorious for his anti-Semitic statements. In 1972, he told the Egyptian magazine al-Musawwar, “While I was in Paris on a visit, the police discovered five murdered children. Their blood had been drained, and it turned out that some Jews had murdered them in order to take their blood and mix it with the bread they eat on that day.” The following year, in an interview with the Lebanese Al-Sayyad Faisal said that in order to comprehend the crimes of Zionism it’s necessary to understand the Jewish religious obligation to obtain non-Jewish blood.

The Saudi royal family’s hatred of the Jews is now influencing its next generation. Saudi Prince Amr Muhammad Al-Faisal writes often in the Saudi press to warn American Jews that their compatriots will eventually turn against them. In one article he declared: “Dear cousins, if you hear a snap in two or three years, it will probably be the sound of the trap shutting on your collective necks. You have been warned.”

Given that the Saudi royal family controls its country’s media, mosques, and textbooks, there’s no doubt they’re responsible for the kingdom’s reputation as a breeding ground for anti-Semitism.

Steven Stalinsky is executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.

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