Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Egyptian Candid Camera

A delightful Egyptian TV program, in which the hosts play little tricks on the guests.

In this episode, the guests (prominent members of the Egyptian arts community) are invited to be on television, and are then told, on the air, that their interviewers are... Jews!

Zaniness ensues! One burly male guest punches the female (Jew) interviewer (4:50 in the video), and each of the guests violently freaks out at the realization that they are being spoken to by... Jews.

Alas, it is all a hilarious practical joke. There's not a Jew in sight. They're Muslims all. All hug in the end, even the punched female interviewer. I mean, who can blame the guy. He thought she was a... Jew. He gets a round of applause.

From Jonathan Tobin at Commentary:

... the Egyptian version of this [Candid Camera] genre found a way of freaking out their victims that seems to be straight out of a Sacha Baron Cohen movie. Al-Nahar TV tricked three Egyptian celebrities into coming in for an Arabic-language interview that they were told was for German television. But once the cameras were rolling, the interviewer and the staff on the set let it slip that they were really Israelis. As they say in the world of comedy, complications ensued.
All three of the prominent victims of this stunt were outraged at the thought of even being in the same room with people they presumed to be Jews, let alone appearing on an Israeli program. Two grew violent, with one burly male even assaulting the young female interviewer. The prank speaks volumes not only about the level of hatred for Jews and Israelis in Egyptian popular culture but about what is considered acceptable behavior in the Muslim world.
Viewing the invective about Jews and Israel being spewed on the show by three apparently prominent members of the Egyptian arts community is damning by itself. It says a lot that the show’s producers thought one of the most outrageous things they could do to Egyptians was to trick them into sitting down with Jews. Nor is it surprising that the response generated hate speech about the character of the Jewish people and the authenticity of the Holocaust.
But the punch lines of each segment in which the subjects are informed they are on a candid camera show, which was required in two cases to avert more violence if not bloodshed, is also illustrative. There were no reproaches from the hosts for the violent behavior that followed when the guests were told they were on Israeli TV. It was only when they were pretending to be Israelis that they tried to push back against the slanders. Once they were back in their own identities, all was forgiven. The host only had praise for her dupes — even the one who slugged her — for demonstrating what she described as “patriotism” by their anger about being set up to talk with Jews. 
To be fair to the Egyptian actors who were subjected to this prank, had they really been tricked into appearing on Israeli TV, there would have been serious consequences for their careers. Egyptians who appear to be friendly with Israel or with Jews are often blacklisted from their professions. 
Nevertheless, the show tells us all we need to know about the depth of Egyptian and Muslim anti-Semitism. Those who believe peace with the Arab world can be bought by territory or by Israeli concessions continue to ignore the current of hatred that runs through the political and arts culture of the Muslim world, even in a country supposedly at peace with the Jewish state.

Nice to know The Religion of Peace ™ has a lighter side.


  1. Religious bigotry can become pervasive in a country when politics becomes totally subsumed by one religion. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster we haven’t gotten their yet. Although it’s not much of a stretch to imagine Egnore claiming atheists make meatballs out of Christians.


    1. See what I mean.


    2. More Holocaust denial by Egnor. Yawn.

    3. I missed the Holocaust denial. Sorry. Where was it?


  2. Dr Mike,

    I am Egyptian. As a religious person I naturally happen to agree with you on many things, but I find your comments here (and on Islam in general) rather disappointing.

    First, some background information. This guy got famous in Egypt as a result of a series of spoof ads that have very explicit sexual humor, not something you generally see from the strict observant people in the country.

    Second, the guests are being told that they are on Israeli (not Jewish, Israeli) TV. He asks to leave, because he was tricked thinking and not being told about this rather important "fact" beforehand, and they don't allow him to do so, he feels trapped which is why he's outraged (doesn't justify the violence, of course).

    There is no denying that opposition to Israel's policies is high in Egypt and probably the vast majority of people in Egypt refuse to normalize relationships with Israel as the situation stands, but it's not a simple matter of religion or hatred of Jews. All guests including Christian, leftist and secular acted in more or less the same way. They requested to leave, and were "denied" as part of the joke. Only that guy got overly, err, outraged and violent.

    1. admittedly, I've never seen the episode with this actress guest before (I suppose because she's almost a nobody in Egyptian media the episode never got really popular) and her comments are indeed regrettable.