A Jewish couple and their two young daughters were disgusted and upset after being subjected to a violent, antisemitic children’s cartoon in a hotel restaurant in Egypt.
“[We were] so disgusted at the show of propaganda and hate – on national TV – for children,” Kirsty Ross told United with Israel (UWI) in a telephone interview. “[We] were mortified…. We’re not talking about bad service and towels; we’re talking about pure antisemitism.”
Ross, her husband Brendan and their six-year-old twins were on their way home to South Africa from a trip to Barcelona earlier this month when they missed their connecting flight in Cairo. The family decided to stay overnight at Le Meridien Cairo Airport hotel and that’s where they ate their dinner. The hotel’s dining room was filled primarily with Muslim individuals and families who were eating the special evening meal (called Iftar) after fasting all day for their religious holiday of Ramadan.
Jews Stabbed and Beheaded in Kids’ Cartoon
Dinner and prayers were followed by the airing of a children’s program on a big-screen TV in the dining room. Although the Rosses do not speak Arabic, the message of the animated children’s program was unmistakable: it depicted graphic scenes of violence, in which Israeli soldiers were ambushed, beaten, stabbed in the neck and beheaded, in a way that made these actions seem praiseworthy.
One of the twins asked her mother if she should hide her Star of David necklace under her shirt. No, Ross responded. “We are Jewish and we should be proud.”
None of the other guests in the restaurant – including the children – appeared to be disturbed by the cartoon, Ross said. The Ross family left the dining hall, and the hotel, in a hurry.
Once they were home in South Africa, Ross phoned the hotel chain’s representatives in the US to lodge a complaint, and an employee of the hotel in Cairo responded within hours.
Hotel Reps Shocked and Horrified
“It was with grave concern and shock to have read the comments related to your experience in the restaurant during Iftar and please accept my most sincere apologies for the upset and embarrassment caused,” Chris Newman, general manager of Le Meridien Cairo Airport, wrote in an email to Ross.
Newman explained that the TV screens were only in the restaurant to “assist in the breaking of fast for Iftar and for that sole purpose only”. and said he would be speaking with the restaurant’s managers “to ensure such a situation does not recur.”
Trey Sarten, director of global public relations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide & Le Meridien, told UWI in an email that the hotel chain was “horrified when we learned of the disturbing and offensive content presented by a local television channel in our hotel restaurant following Iftar prayer on July 7. We are deeply sorry for the humiliation and embarrassment it caused.”
Furthermore, “we have taken precautions to ensure this type of performance does not happen again.”
Teaching Children to Hate
Ross said she is satisfied with the hotel’s response. Nonetheless, the incident has given her and her family a real-life insight into the ways that children can be indoctrinated to hate the Jewish people.
“I see [now] how you could instill such hate at such a young age,” she said.
Author: Sherry Miller
Staff Writer, United with Israel
(With files from Atara Beck)