The “Jew” as a metaphor for evil in arab public discourse

Esther Webman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses the image of the Jew in its recent manifestations in Arab discourse, showing how competing political and religious factions have manipulated it and imbued it with meaning. It contends that the “Jew” is being constructed as a functional metaphor, an all-purpose villain, to explain the changing circumstances and catastrophes that have befallen Arab societies, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring. To borrow from Shulamit Volkov’s vocabulary, it is suggested that the metaphor “Jew” has become a “cultural code” that signifies belonging to a specific group and acceptance of a set of ideas and attitudes. It serves to define non-Jewish adversaries by Judaizing them and attributing to them certain supposed features of Jews, while denouncing them for their actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-292
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Middle East and Africa
Issue number3
StatePublished - 8 Dec 2015


  • Arab spring
  • Islamic polemics
  • Jewish-arab relations
  • Middle East
  • Muslim brotherhood
  • Sayyid qutb
  • The protocols of the elders of zion


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