NEW YORK – The U.S. government's overseas broadcast agency is pressing Arab media outlets to cease anti-Semitic reporting that could further incite the already heated Mideast conflict.
A Monday editorial broadcast on Voice of America, an international multimedia service funded by the American government, called for Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments to stop media reports that foster a hatred of Jews.
Violence and hatred in the region have spilled into newspapers, television coverage and Web sites around the world. Critics say the hate has sparked vicious anti-Semitism in some Arab media.
"There is a need for truthful information because it’s not available in many places in the world, and that there is not equal access across all parts of society," said VOA spokeswoman Letitia King.
"Often times the media [in Arab countries] is not free to report the truth, it’s censored," King maintained. "It’s a misnomer here in the U.S. to think everyone has access to reliable press and the information is always accurate."
Anti-Semitism in the Arab world today is running "out of control," according to Ken Jacobson, who works with the Anti-Defamation League, on organization devoted to fighting religious and ethnic intolerance.
As an example of that anti-Semitism, the VOA referred to a March 10 column in the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, in which the writer claimed Jews use human blood to make pastries for the Purim holiday "by killing a mature adolescent who is, of course, a non-Jew…that is, a Christian or a Muslim." The article went on to say that for Passover, "the blood of Christian and Muslim children under the age of 10 must be used."
Turki al Sudairy, editor of Al-Riyadh criticized the author and repudiated the column's contents Tuesday, saying he found out about it while he was in Lebanon, according to reports from the Middle East. Sudairy said the newspaper will no longer work with the writer.
The VOA editorial called the column "a centuries-old anti-Semitic lie that has been used repeatedly to stir hatred against Jews. No one who is not blinded by hate for Jews could ever believe such nonsense."
Another disturbing trend in anti-Semitic writing is the increasing sale of an Arabic translation of Hitler's Mein Kampf. The autobiography and blueprint for the establishment of an anti-Semitic Nazi state has become a bestseller in the Palestinian territories and is now on sale in Arab neighborhoods in Britain, according to The Telegraph of London.
Anger in the streets of the Middle East bleeding into the media "is a disease that needs to be cured, the sooner the better," said Yigal Carmon, of the Middle East Research Institute. "But unfortunately, the governments that have to deal with that are part of the problem."
One tactic used to convince readers that the misinformation they are reading is true is to give writers more credible titles. The columnist who wrote in the Saudi daily was identified as a university doctor.
"I’m sure there are any number of methods for gathering misinformation," said VOA’s King. "You’d have to be a creative person to guess all the things people do to misinform the public, sadly enough. People get very creative to garner others to their cause."
Blasphemous media reports that fuel the fires of hate, already at a boiling point in the Middle East, are "no way to promote peace between Arabs and Jews," the VOA said.
There is something that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries can do right now to ease tensions, the VOA reported. "They could stop newspapers and radio and television stations — especially those controlled by the state — from inciting hatred and violence against Jews."
Fox News’ Eric Shawn contributed to this report.