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Beaming hate in Egypt

Night after night, television viewers in Egypt and many other Arab nations are watching Horseman Without a Horse, a 41-part quasi-historical drama about Arab opposition to Israel. On second thought, quasi-historical is giving this series far too much credence.

The plot line maliciously weaves The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into its tale of international intrigue. The Protocols, a book in which Jews plot to take over the world, were forged by czarist police in the early 1900s. The material was later used by the Nazis to justify the extermination of millions of Jews during World War II.

President Hosni Mubarak's government has tried to downplay its role in sanctioning this dissemination of hate on state-run television, during Ramadan, when television ratings peak. The U.S. State Department had asked Egypt not to air the series. Egypt's government newspaper replied that the censorship pressures amounted to "intellectual terrorism" perpetrated by Israel and its supporters.

The Mubarak government shows no such reverence for freedom of expression when it comes to the presentation of political dissent or a discussion of masturbation on state TV. It seems that anti-Semitism, and its potential for inflaming the passions in the Middle East, did not meet the test of outrage in the Mubarak regime.