Anti-Semitism Virulent in Egypt

November 1, 2012

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

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"The real problem is that a cynical government that used anti-Semitism as a tool may have been replaced by an ideological government in which anti-Semitism is deep and serious," said Elliott Abrams, a former top National Security Council staffer in the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."

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