Israel Influence Ops in Egypt & Jordan



Israel has long sought to normalize relations with Arab countries, but has faced numerous difficulties. Tel-Aviv’s main obstacle has been opposition from Arab public opinion. For this reason, Israel’s priority is to first gain recognition among Arab governments and then afterwards, influence public opinion. Among Arab states, Egypt and Jordan are of high importance for Israel.
Pursuing political recognition, the “Camp David” agreement was concluded between Israel and Egypt in 1987. In 1994, the “Wadi Araba” deal was signed between Israel and Jordan. Such agreements – brokered by the USA – have led to the establishment of political relations between Israel, Egypt and Jordan. Having political representation in these two countries, Israel has sought to expand its influence to other fields.
The historical presence of Judaism and related artifacts in these two countries have been used by the Zionist regime to create a foothold under cover of “interreligious dialogue” in these countries amid sensitive political and social conditions. Interestingly, Israel has intensified more-or-less concealed cultural activities in Jordan and Egypt parallel to cultural normalization efforts that led up to the “Abraham Accords” in the Gulf. The Zionist regime was consequently able to influence several Jordanian and Egyptian ministries such as the Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, the Ministry of Endowments and the Ministry of Education by investing in cultural, social and historical topics. Some brief examples of such actions will be presented below.

A) Jordan

Preacher Mentor Program

In an interview in 2021, “Joseph Braude“, an American Zionist normalization agent linked to the Washington Institute, announced that in the past years he was invited to be a “mentor” for Jordanian Friday imams by the Ministry of Endowments of Jordan. Braude, whose grandfather was a Jewish rabbi, claims to have taught “moderate Islam” to the imams during this time.

Batra Region Scandal

Israel has at times signaled claims of ownership of certain Jordanian territories due to the historical presence of Jews in these regions. Jordan’s Al-Batra region is considered one of these historical territories of significance. In 2019, a group of Israeli tourists attended and performed their rituals in the region. After images of the rituals being performed in the place went viral, the incident caused anger among Jordanian citizens. Ultimately, the Ministry of Endowments ordered the closure of the site.
The Batra region is one of Jordan’s tourist regions and is under the authority of Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism along with the Ministry of Endowments. The Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Commission of the Jordanian Parliament had originally sought to allow foreigners to buy land in the area. This plan was opposed by the public opinion and parliamentarians because it meant that Israelis could potentially buy and sell land in the area.

Supporting the Right of Israelis in Al-Batra Region in Jaber Movie

Israelis have invested heavily in the film and cinema industry with the aim of spreading false Zionist narratives of history. Jaber, despite being a Jordanian movie, presented a scenario quite interestingly tuned towards Israel, lending credit to certain Israeli claims over Jordan’s al-Batra region. Public backlash to the film was fierce enough to force the Jordanian government to cancel its production.
A number of Jordanian actors had been selected for the film in 2019. According to the script, part of the shooting was in the historical area of Al-Batra. Jordanian actor “Ali Alian” along with other Jordanian actors, claim to have withdrawn from the film after fully reading its script. Alian announced in a post on Facebook that the film contains false historical content and falsifies the history of the Levant region, especially Al-Batra and South Jordan. The film’s director, Mohydeen Izzat Quandour, sought to alleviate concerns by stating that film’s storyline is fictional and non-historical, a claim which is irrelevant given to legitimate concerns over Zionist presence in the al-Batra region.1

Poster for cancelled Jordanian film, Jaber

Jordanian Students Sent to Israel

The Center for Israel Studies (CIS) was founded and managed by Abdullah Sawalha. Sawalha is an active figure working on normalizing Israel’s relations with Arab countries. The CIS claims to be an independent and non-profit think tank that “studies all aspects of Israeli politics and society” and wants to become a “point of reference to any researcher interested in Israel”.
The CIS has sent Jordanian students to Israel as part of some form of “exchange program”. For example, in 2016, CIS sent 6 Jordanian students to Tel Aviv to where they were taught Hebrew. Such measures are definitely not possible without government support, and Israel-related networks definitely have an active presence in the Jordanian government.2

Influencing Elementary Education

Zionist networks have an active presence in educational, cultural and historical organizations and institutions in Jordan. In one viral instance, the Jordanian public was angered after the symbol of the 6-pointed star of the Israeli flag was placed in front of synagogue-shaped mosque in Jordan’s first grade Islamic education book.3

B) Egypt

In the 20th century, more than a hundred thousand Jews were present in Egypt before immigrating to Israel and Europe. That is, before the formation of Israel, Jews securely lived in Egypt, especially in the province of Alexandria, and had built 19 synagogues for their religious rituals. Most of these abandoned synagogues are in the two provinces of Cairo and Alexandria.
There are currently, however, only a handful of Jews living in Egypt. This has raised many suspicions regarding Egypt’s recent initiatives to celebrate Egypt’s almost non-existent “Jewish culture” in light of Tel Aviv’s broader regional outreach program, using Judaism as a pretext for cultural diplomacy activities.

Support for the Restoration of “Jewish heritage”

On April 23, 2018, the Egyptian Parliament approved a bill amending some provisions of Law No. 117 on the protection of antiquities. The most controversial change was done to Article 2, which was changed to emphasized Jewish heritage in Egypt. This is while “Jewish heritage” in Egypt does not include more than a few dozen temples and buildings. These are usually fairly small buildings, most of which are not more than a hundred years old.
The amendment to such a controversial law resulted from an initiative launched in February 2016. At that time, 11 Jewish institutions from different countries of the world, led by the American Jewish Committee, presented a memorandum to the Egyptian government demanding the recognition of Jewish heritage in Egypt. After this request and the passing of the Law for the Protection of Jewish Artifacts, in December 2018, a budget of 71 million dollars was allocated for the restoration of Jewish artefacts. While the Egyptian government was in a critical situation due to economic conditions and was also suffering from a years-long budget deficit, such a decision, signals two important trends:
1) US-based Zionist lobbies are acting in tandem with Israel’s Foreign Ministry interests in creating a Zionist foothold in Egypt. This is in line with a general Middle East trend of US-based operators lobbying for Israeli interests in circumstances where direct Israeli lobbying is deemed risky.
2) The Egyptian government want to reap the benefits of Israeli ties without inciting sensitivities of the local population.
It is worth mentioning that the Egyptian government had already allocated 2.2 million dollars for the restoration of the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue located in Alexandria before the amendment of law 117. Following this action, the Israeli ambassador thanked President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for the restoration of the synagogue.

Sisi Welcomes US-based Zionist Lobbies

In February 2019, the Israeli newspaper “Jerusalem Post” reported that Sisi met with an American delegation headed by Ezra Friedlander, founder of the Zionist American Jewish Committee. In this meeting, Sisi spoke passionately about the history of the Jews in Egypt. Sisi asked the delegation to return to Egypt and promised that the government will provide all needs of Jews in Egypt, constructing synagogues and providing other related services. In order to show his seriousness Sisi ordered the Jewish graves of the Basatin neighborhood in Cairo to be cleaned in the same year.4
Sisi continued to restore Jewish synagogues, which resulted in negative reactions from the public, specifically because Sisi had destroyed a number of historical tombs in Egypt under various pretexts.5

An example of Egyptian media protesting the restoration of Jewish synagogues by Sisi

Zionists in Egypt’s Antiquities Sector

In the past decade, parallel to Israel’s attempt to create a cultural foothold in the Arab world, a growing influx of Zionist tourists and “archaeologists” have entered Egypt on the ground of visiting Egypt’s “Jewish” heritage sites and its related antiquities scene.6 This trend has been repeated in other Arab states which have been targeted by Israel for cultural public relations campaigns, such as Jordan and the UAE.

Egyptian Government Translates Qur’an into Hebrew

In June 2023, the Ministry of Endowments of Egypt announced the translation of the Quran into Hebrew. The Israeli ambassador to Egypt thanked the Egyptian government for the act. According to Majdeh Haroun, the head of Egyptian Jews, there are only a handful of Jews currently living in Egypt, numbering between 12 and 20. Why was this translation not taken in recent years and done now? It appears the translation was done more to appeal Zionist audiences as part of a general pro-Zionist public relations campaign in the country, legitimizing a literally non-existent “Jewish” demographic in Egypt as a pretext to creating a cultural Zionist foothold in the country.