Anti-Semitism Virulent in Egypt

Muslim Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Morsi steps up anti-Israel, anti-Jewish rhetoric

November 1, 2012

A rising tide of anti-Semitism in Egypt has stoked concerns among Americans and Israelis that extremism will guide Cairo’s foreign policy under the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi.

Prominent Egyptian political figures, religious clerics, and even Morsi himself have joined in calling to destroy Israel in recent weeks. Yet President Barack Obama’s administration and other Western nations have remained silent in an effort to avoid friction with Cairo’s new ruling class.

The White House’s repeated failure to condemn this blatant anti-Semitism is causing worry among Jewish leaders and Israeli officials alike.

"It’s very, very troubling that our government has remained silent on the issue as far as I can tell," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Washington Free Beacon. "It’s deeply disturbing and requires pressure and statements from the U.S. government and others."

Egyptian anti-Semitism is nothing new, others observed.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power has amplified the hate, leaving many observers concerned that anti-Jewish prejudice will fuel the government’s policies towards Israel and even America.

"The real problem is that a cynical government that used anti-Semitism as a tool may have been replaced by an ideological government in which anti-Semitism is deep and serious," said Elliott Abrams, a former top National Security Council staffer in the administration of George W. Bush. "The Israelis are right to worry."

Anti-Semitism is more "visible nowadays" following former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s "replacement by the Muslim Brotherhood," Abrams explained.

While Mubarak may have "put some limits" on public displays of anti-Semitism, "those limits are now off," Abrams warned.

And with the U.S. still pumping billions of dollars in aid into Egypt, some are beginning to wonder if the investment is paying off.

Cairo, they say, has become increasingly hostile to the West and has all but abandoned its once-critical role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The latest anti-Semitic exhibition comes from child preacher Ibrahim Adham who recently took to Egyptian television to call for Israel’s destruction and deem "martyrdom" a "religious duty."

"Martyrdom on the path to Allah is a religious duty," Adham said last week on Egypt’s Al-Rahma television station, according to a translation of his remarks by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

"Oh Allah, destroy Israel," prays Adham as an older cleric looks on approvingly.

Experts said that Adham’s comments, while shocking, represent the norm.

"This kind of anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, and anti-Christian approach was not born with the Muslim Brotherhood," said one Arab affairs analyst who was not authorized to speak on record. "This racist TV channel was operating during Mubarak’s years."

"What changed," the source added, "is that these people are now represented in the Egyptian government and parliament."

Calls to destroy Israel have become mainstays in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt despite speculation that leaders would moderate their rhetoric once in power.

"They are today the most dangerous anti-Semitic organization around, period," said Cooper, whose organization has pleaded for the Obama administration to take a firm stance against the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Egypt.

"Everyone can understand that the U.S. wants to make sure it has some leverage" in Morsi’s Egypt, he said, "but our view is that it would be disastrous for the U.S. or any Western country to give a wink and a nod to this overt Jew hatred because nothing good can come from it."

Even Morsi has come under scrutiny for apparently condoning a Muslim cleric’s call for Israel’s destruction.

Cleric Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour prayed for Allah to "destroy the Jews and their supporters" during a recent sermon.

Morsi, who was in attendance, appeared to mouth "Amen" following Al-Nabi’s pronouncement, according to video posted by MEMRI.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) quickly denounced Morsi.

"The drumbeat of anti-Semitism in the ‘new’ Egypt is growing louder and reverberating further under President Morsi, and we are increasingly concerned about the continuing expressions of hatred for Jews and Israel in Egyptian society, and President Morsi’s silence in the face of most of these public expressions of hate," ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in astatement.

Cooper and Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s founder, called the episode "a slap in the face" to Americans and Jews.

"This is a slap in the face to America as Egypt’s President Morsi pockets billions in U.S. aid and says Amen to principles that are repugnant to all Americans," the duo said in a statement.

The organization has even called for Obama to completely cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood due to its rampant anti-Semitism.

Obama had offered to meet personally with Morsi but the powwow was cancelledafter Egyptian rioters stormed the U.S. consulate in Cairo in September.

Morsi’s commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has also been questioned.

During his speech before the United Nations in September, Morsi was expected to support a longstanding peace proposal that would recognize Israel’s right to exist.

However, he nixed the endorsement when he finally delivered his remarks, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) recently noted.

Morsi instead threw his support behind the Palestinians and endorsed their efforts to establish an independent state outside of the negotiating process with Israel.

"I call for a peace that would establish an independent Palestinian state—sovereign Palestinian state, a peace that would achieve the security and stability long sought by the people of the region," Morsi said, according to a transcript posted by JTA. "On the same basis, I assure you of Egypt’s full support to any course of action Palestine decides to follow in the United Nations."

This type of rhetoric could become par for the course, insiders say.

"They mean business, and Morsi made it very clear in his speech at the UNGA, when he couldn’t even pronounce the word ‘Israel,’" said the Arab affairs specialist.

"We are facing something that is far from being a marginal phenomenon in the Egyptian society, and with the country now being controlled by people that spent most of their lives listening to this kind of messages from their spiritual leaders, we are going to see more and more of this," the source added.