A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
April/May 1994, Page 66
ABC's Episode of Anti-Semitism
Amidst the recent avalanche of condemnation for the racist remarks by one Nation of Islam spokesperson, another anti-Semitism flourishes basically undeterred. Despite heightened social sensitivity to prejudice of all kinds, Arabs still are fair game for public defamation. Throughout the American media, they have been relegated to the role of tyrant, terrorist, fanatic or fop.
Network television has long relied for its antagonists on detestable Arab male stereotypes. One glaring example, recently challenged by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), is ABC-TV's daily soap opera "Loving."
"Loving's" villain, "Dante Partou," lives in Kuwait, has a markedly Middle Eastern accent and speaks in the flowery hyperbole that is negatively associated with Arabic. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, " he says, while attempting to abduct a woman to his homeland to be his wife.
This typecast Arab villain ritualistically abused his American wife until her friends rescued her from Kuwait, wounding him in the process. A woman's value lies in her beauty, Dante Partou intoned, a wife's only duty is to please her husband.
Tess, his blonde wife, complains, "That man destroyed my pride. He would say that all I have is my beautiful face, and that sits like an empty nest on my neck. "
Later, seeking revenge, Partou cruelly imprisons the man who shot him, and kidnaps and sedates the man's wife, another blonde. And, reminiscent of horror movie monsters, he keeps reappearing even after it appears he is down for the count.
After receiving complaints that it had created an "evil Arab male stereotype," ABC claimed that it had initially introduced him as a European. According to ABC's Vice President of Broadcast Standards, Chris Hikawa, the script indicated that "the character is from an unnamed European country but that he now calls Kuwait his home. It was further established that he was an 'old-world' European who lived by a turn-of-the-century code of behavior as far as women were concerned. 'Loving' made these changes to Dante's biography out of a sensitivity to avoid an evil Arab male character."
Ms. Hikawa admitted that "It may have been an error of judgment on our part to have allowed the use of a real country as Dante Partou's current place of residence. But once we had established him as a European, we felt the issue was addressed."
This amounted only to a token disclaimer. The technical origin of the villain was not relevant, since the only country mentioned in connection with Dante was Kuwait. It is implausible and unrealistic to expect viewers to remember one vague reference to an unnamed European nationality amidst concrete and continuing references to Kuwait. The facts belied the network's denial that it had avoided a negative Arab stereotype.
Responding to ADC's complaint, and a deluge of mail from ADC members, ABC now has promised to introduce a positive Arab-American police officer, "Abboud," as part of "Loving's" script. Ina March letter to ADC, Ms. Hikawa said that although officer Abboud "will have a small part at first, if response is strong, his role could grow.
—Anne Marie Baylouny Media Director, ADC