Fatah Hate Oped: Shakespeare’s ‘Greedy, Deceitful’ Shylock Is Accurate Portrayal of Jews

10th December 1958: Australian dancer, choreographer and actor Robert Helpmann (1909 - 1986) plays Shylock in the Old Vic Company's performance of Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice'. (Photo by Monty Fresco/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Monty Fresco/Topical Press Agency/Getty

TEL AVIV – Shakespeare was right when he created Shylock to describe Jews as deceitful and greedy, Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party claimed in a recent anti-Semitic oped. 

The column, published last month on the website of Fatah’s Information and Culture Commission and authored by Mahmoud Al-Assadi, said The Merchant of Venice‘s author was spot on with his portrayal of the “deceitful, greedy, trickster, extortionist and lowly character of the Jews” Shylock.

While berating other British personalities, including Former British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, Baron Rothschild, and prime ministers Tony Blair and Theresa May – ostensibly over their support of Jews and Israel – the extremist Assadi hails Shakespeare as being one Briton who got it right when it came to Jews.

“While Britain’s colonialist history is full of people like Balfour, Rothschild, Tony Blair and Theresa May, the greatest playwright William Shakespeare correctly described the deceitful, greedy, trickster, extortionist and lowly character of the Jews in the story The Merchant of Venice in the 16th century,” the oped, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, reads.

Assadi describes May as “a hostile and sinful woman” for expressing support of the Balfour Declaration, a statement that endorsed the establishment of a Jewish national home. The writer then goes on to invent a quote by May.

May, Assadi writes, “deepened her insolence further when she stated: ‘We must celebrate this day instead of apologizing to the Palestinians for the expropriation of their lands, the leveling of their fields and the desecration of their holy sites.'”

There is no record of May having said anything close to that.

In the play, Shylock is a conniving moneylender and the central antagonist who is eventually defeated and forced to convert to Christianity.

As PMW notes, Fatah’s column is not the first time Palestinians have drawn on Shakespeare’s fictitious Jewish character to make comparisons with actual Jews.

A news anchor at the PA’s TV network said, “Israel is a state that seizes opportunities in the style of Shylock.” A columnist in the official PA Al-Hayat Al-Jadida daily described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “modern Shylock.”

A December oped published by that same paper said President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital proved he was copying “the model of Shylock – the American Shylock, in the style of the Jewish Shylock.”

PA TV also featured a Jordanian academic who used an age old stereotype to claim that the Jews’ “love of money” led Shakespeare to create his character.

“The Jews are hated in every society in which they have lived, because of their behavior relating to their great love of money. Their behavior led to [Shakespeare’s] famous story, the story of Shylock about money lending, which clings to the Jews. This is how they harmed the societies that embraced them,” Muhammad Dohal said.

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