Update to the update: According to Israel Hayom, Islamic Jihad has now called for the resignation of Essam al-Erian and the death of returning Jews. (with thanks: Lily)
Final update: Essam el-Arian has resigned.
A Muslim Brotherhood official's call on Egyptian TV for Egyptian Jews to return to Egypt - even though they supported the 'occupation' (of Palestine) - has met with a barrage of criticism from within Israel and Egypt. (With thanks: Lily)
(JTA) -– A Cairo-born Israeli* has grabbed headlines in leading Arab media with a letter mocking a top Egyptian official’s call for the return of Egypt’s Jews from Israel.
Azi Nagar’s letter, which received coverage in Al-Hayat and Al Ahram, ridicules the call made last week by Essam al-Erian, deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and an adviser to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
“I basically asked al-Erian a few questions about my impending return,” Nagar told JTA, “like whether he would compensate me for my family’s house, which the government confiscated when we left for Israel, or whether I would have to join the destitute homeless and jobless who live in Cairo’s cemeteries.”
In a televised speech last week, al-Erian urged Jews to leave Israel in order to “make room for the Palestinians” and said Israel will cease to exist in the next decade.
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Here is the transcript of the MEMRI TV clip:
Issam Al-'Aryan: Most of the Egyptian people are Muslims. Our Arab Islamic culture was shared by the Christians, the Muslims, and even the Jews who used to live here. I wish the Jews would return to Egypt in order to make room for the Palestinians. The Palestinians would return to their country, and the Arab Jews would return to their countries.
Interviewer: Are you welcoming the Egyptian Jews...
Issam Al-'Aryan: The Jews deported by Abd Al-Nasser should return. Why did he deport them?!
Interviewer: So they should get their property back?
Issam Al-'Aryan: They supported the occupation. Every Egyptian has the right to return, especially if he would be making room for a Palestinian. I want to enable the Palestinians to return to their land. The Right of Return cannot be ignored or relinquished.
Interviewer: But the right to return is unconditional, right? An Egyptian who left his country has the right to return to it.
Issam Al-'Aryan: I am calling upon them: Egypt is worthier of you than Israel. Why do you live in a racist, occupying entity? Why do you allow yourselves to be soiled with war crimes, for which the occupation leaders will be punished? They will not escape punishment.
ABC News carries the Associated Press report alleging that Al-Aryan's remarks met with criticism inside Egypt:
"The criticism ran an unusual gamut of Egyptians' attitudes toward Jews, Israel and the Brotherhood itself.
Some denounced the Brotherhood for trying to put up a veneer of tolerance by inviting Jews to return while Egypt's other religious minorities, particularly Christians, are increasingly worried about persecution under the new Islamist rulers and an Islamist-slanted constitution.
"Others saw the comments as a sort of outreach to Zionists, considered the enemy, and as a new example of how the Brotherhood has had a hard time melding its longtime anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish rhetoric with its new responsibilities since coming to power. Under Morsi — who hails from the Brotherhood — the government has continued cooperation with Israel, upheld the two countries' peace deal and Morsi last month helped mediate a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.
The restoration of the Maimonides synagogue in Cairo (Photo: AP)
And there were a few voices calling for Egypt to sincerely look at past treatment of its Jewish community — including why they left or were expelled — and whether they should have the right to return.
"Speaking on private ONTV, historian Khaled Fahmy suggested taking el-Erian's comments at face value. "I am taking the call seriously. I would like to see it in part as respectable, as addressing morals and high principles." He said Egyptians should talk about the past "harm to Egyptian Jews" and consider them as still having Egyptian nationality.
"I wish this was put to a public discussion," he said."
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*Nagar reportedly heads an Association for the Promotion of Compensation for Jews from Arab Lands
Et tu Morsi? In 2010 TV interview the Egyptian president said: Jews are apes, piugs and bloodsuckers (World Jewish Daily)