It seems that a studies and research center does not necessarily entail undertaking any research. It’s enough for those in charge to pass judgment without documented proof. Once the falseness of their claims are revealed, the said center would have at least created controversy around the issue at stake; hence the ages old adage: “Throw enough mud and some of it will stick.
I say this in response to failed attempts by some Zionist circles to smear Egypt’s success during the Geneva International Book Fair, where Egypt was the guest of honor this year. This was the first time for Egypt to be invited as the sole guest of honor in any international fair, where it was previously always part of a group of other Arab delegates as was the case in Frankfurt in 2002 as well as in London last month.
Shimon Samuels, director of international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a lobby group that monitors and combats the growth of neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic activity, sent a memo to the director of the Geneva Book Fair demanding the confiscation of all publications in the Egyptian wing, placing its publishers on a blacklist and prohibiting any future dealings with them.
As a representative of one of the major Jewish studies centers, which, according to their website, deals directly with heads of state, Mr Samuels felt obliged to give evidence to his accusations against the Egyptian wing in order to distort its obvious success. So he chose me, saying that he was astonished to find that one of the most important speakers this year was Mohamed Salmawy. He even bestowed on me the title of editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram, describing me as a holocaust revisionist, which, in the West (which still suffers a guilt complex towards the Jews) is a major offence punishable by jail terms and fines and is only surpassed by accusations of being a holocaust denier.
And just to make sure the accusations don’t phase out too quickly, Mr Samuels hurled other accusations against books in the Egyptian wing, calling them anti-Semitic, because they advocate the extermination of Israel from the map. He specifically drew attention to two books: “Israel: Actions and Words by Neamaat Ahmed Fouad, published by Dar Al Nahda and “The Jews in the Eyes of their Enemies by Abdel Wahid El Masry, published by Dar Ain.
So we all went on a quest to find the alleged titles, not only in the Egyptian wing, but also on a database comprising every single Egyptian publication from the era of Mohamed Ali until today. Alas, we neither found a book by that title authored by Neamaat Ahmed Fouad, nor could we find anyone, author or otherwise, who goes by the name Abdel Wahid El Masry. That said, I have no doubt that the alleged books are anti-Semitic as the Jewish center’s official claims.
Likewise, I do not recall having published any books about the holocaust in which I contested the number of victims, as French intellectual Roger Garoudi did when he claimed that the number could not have been six million because at the time Europe was not home to six million Jews. Yet this does not in any way mean that I did not publish such a book, despite the fact that I do not recall having done so, and that the Wiesenthal Center has read it and concluded that it’s anti-Semitic and that I’m a holocaust revisionist.
Despite that, Mr Samuels was cautious, describing me as “someone who is said to be a holocaust revisionist, just in case it turns out that the accusations are false, thus ensuring he would not be held accountable. This, of course, is acceptable if you’re talking about a layman, but when the accuser is the representative of a prestigious research center, then his sources of information must be based on real research, not, as he confessed, on what is rumored.
Surely, if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick. But this time, there was no mud to start with.
Mohamed Salmawy is President of the Arab Writer’s Union and Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Hebdo.