This Lebanese ministerial adviser just called Jews 'dirty'

This Lebanese ministerial adviser just called Jews 'dirty'
Blog: Wadih Akl's comments should be treated with disgust, but they have shocked no-one, writes Diana Alghoul.
3 min read
16 Aug, 2017
This sign in Aparthaus Paradies caused a stir online [Facebook]

A sign displayed in Aparthaus Paradies hotel in Switzerland went viral this week after it called on its Jewish guests to shower before they entered the swimming pool, threatening to ban them from the facility if they did not comply.

The sign was met with angry reactions, calling the hotel out on its anti-Semitism and demanding the hotel manager be sanctioned for approving it - even signing it.

That said, there were also many who found the whole thing funny, even acceptable, including Wadih Akl - a legal adviser to the Lebanese government.

He posted his disturbing response to the story on Twitter and Facebook.

While some have supported Akl, he was also criticised over his comments.

Translation: they are all "dirty"
- a Swiss hotel advises Jewish guests to shower before entering the pool

"Curse such racism," one person replied.

There were also a number of people defending Lebanon's own Jewish heritage.

"Lebanon is very proud of its Jewish community and we want them to come back and forgive our ignorance because we don't know how much we owe them... Phoenician-Hebrew ancestors will thrive in the global world. Alpha & Omega," said one commenter.

Despite the backlash, his endorsement of such sentiments displays a larger problem with anti-Semitism that is often denied.

In the Arab world, when this sort of thing happens, there is more to it than the idea that European style anti-Semitism is not as dead as commonly perceived.

Those who find it appropriate to discriminate against Jewish people often do so as a way to cover-up for other problematic political views they have. In Akl's case, his record of supporting fascists could explain why the sign was so easy for him to relate to.

In this tweet, he gave his "full support" to Lebanon's foreign minister Gebran Bassil, who is known for his xenophobic comments and anti-refugee stance.

He has repeatedly "otherised" refugees, the majority of those in Lebanon being Palestinian and Syrian, and has treated them as a security threat.

His racism is coupled with misogyny. In Lebanon, there has been a long campaign against women not being allowed to pass on their citizenship to their children.

Towards the end of 2016, the debate sparked again. Bassil insisted that he would be willing to support an change to the law - as long as there was an exception that would bar women married to Palestinian and Syrian refugees from passing on their Lebanese citizenship to their children.

Cover-up for racism against Palestinians

It is no coincidence that the "curse the Jews" mentality is commonly used by those who also endorse racism against Palestinians. In Akl's case, he has done directly this.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have been long discriminated against and those close to the political class in Lebanon do nothing to change this, simply because they do not care enough about Palestinians or the Palestinian cause.

Instead, they use anti-Semitism, which is completely irrelevant and toxic to the plight of Palestinians, as a lazy, misguided and unwanted form of alleged solidarity with the Palestinian people. That, along with having the grace to allow Palestinian refugees to live in Lebanon, albeit often in extremely impoverished conditions.

The fact that somebody so close to the Lebanese government has made such a statement should be treated with disgust, but it should not be a matter of shock. If someone endorses figures who spew inflammatory fascist rhetoric at one group of people, they will continue to do so with others.

Follow Diana Alghoul on Twitter @SuperKnafeh