Fifty years have passed since many Arab countries were humiliated by Israel in 1967 in a war the Arabs started, with the explicit goal of destroying the Jewish State and throwing the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. Today, Israel has solid diplomatic relations with two of these countries — Jordan to Egypt — while Saudi officials speak with their Israeli security counterparts about the Iranian threat.
But although the Middle East is engulfed in a new wave of internal destabilization, and Iran has recently experienced a new wave of protests in which people chanted “we don’t want an Islamic Republic”, the great taboo for the Arab and Muslim world is still that of cultural exchanges with the hated “Zionists”.
A prominent Tunisian-born French movie producer, Saïd Ben Saïd, after being forced to pull out of North Africa’s most prestigious film festival, recently issued one of the frankest denunciations of anti-Semitism in the Arab world. He revealed, in an op-ed for the French daily Le Monde, that an invitation to preside over the jury of the Carthage Film Festival had been rescinded because of his work with the Israeli film director, Nadav Lapid, and for having participated on a panel at the Jerusalem Film Festival earlier this year. The real culprit, Ben Saïd argued, was the prevalence of anti-Semitism fueled by Islamic extremists across the Middle East: