Egypt top newspaper's weird "Zionist conspiracy" theory
What is so weird here is that Al-Ahram effectively admits this is a conspiracy theory. It's basically a Jews-poisoning-the-wells type story, but with a camel-droppings angle. Weird...
Today, the most widely circulating Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, has run a front-page report headlined in red and bold, ''Israeli conspiracy on Sinai's underground water.''
In a black bold lead, the report stresses that ''liberating Sinai and restoring its territories from Israeli occupation was not merely our dream; the dream was to develop this region to be our real exit from all economic troubles.''
However, the report claims, ''the ship of the state is always besieged with conspiracies.'' (Our italics)
"Unsatisfied with their crimes in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973 in Sinai, Palestine, and South Lebanon; Zionists brought Prosopis juliflora, a kind of Mesquite [shrub or tree] which is considered so dangerous, to Sinai.''
Next, the newspaper goes on to explain the dangers of the tree and how it was brought to Egypt.
First, it says that an Israeli tourist, who works in the agricultural sector, had given some of the plants (which can be poisonous, produce hundreds of thousands of seeds and which take over pastoral grasslands, use scarce water, and, with their thorns and many branches, form impenetrable thickets that prevent animals from accessing the land they occupy) to a Sinai Bedouin as a "gift".
''Mesquite has colonized thousands of hectares of the governorate's land, having severe economic and environmental impacts'', the report claimed.
In a weird non sequitur the paper than turned to the antipodes. 'In Australia alone, wild rabbits cause the country an economic loss of $200 billion dollars a year, as they consume big amounts of the country's extremely good harvests.''
So, it's not just Jewish conspiracies, rabbits are at it too!
And then in another bizarre twist we get back to the Mesquite tree and the Sinai, where this time yet another species appears to be involved.
"The Mesquite tree is native to Mexico and South and Central America, and has been established as an invasive weed in Sudan in South Africa, where the seeds of the plant were spread by camels consuming the seed pods and sold to Sinai Bedouins.''
So if the Jews were involved in this dastardly plot, the camels might have been in on the conspiracy too, presumably by spreading the Sinai with their "Zionist" droppings.
On the other hand, a Jew might have sold the seeds which are liked by camels while he was sitting on one. Perhaps the Bedouin was on a camel too. By this stage, there is little point in trying to make sense of any of this.
All this reminds me of the Egyptian story of Agapanthus (or Lily of the Nile). Although agapanthuses are known to be native to South Africa, Egyptians have always thought that Israelis have deliberately thrown such water-consuming species in the Nile.
Prosopis juliflora and Agapanthus are invasive in many countries of the world, but the elites of such countries have never accused Israel of using such plants to conspire against them. It seems that only Egyptian journalists are fond of doing so.
In fact, this is not the first time that Al-Ahram has launched conspiracy accusations against other nations. Over 2013, it accused the US, Britain, and Israel of supporting and sponsoring terror and conspiring against Egypt.
The three countries were portrayed in a way that recalls the 1956 tripartite assault against Port Said, when Britain, France, and Israel attacked Egypt in reaction to President Gamal Abdel-Nasser's decision to nationalize the Suez Canal.
Repeating the conspiracy "frame" from time to time has exerted a strong influence on Egyptians' political cognition.
Obviously, this is dangerous as it depicts Israel (as well as the UK and US) as forever an enemy and a supporter of terror. This encourages violence against innocent Israeli civilians, and needless to say against the West as a whole.
But apart from being dangerous, it's all just plain weird.
A Contributing Editor to The Commentator, the writer, currently based in Europe, is an Egyptian poet, actor, and political intellectual. He is also pursuing doctoral research in cognitive science
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