In the wake of Egypt’s newly ratified constitution embracing Islamic religious juridical law, Dr. Essam Al Eryian, the high ranking Egyptian political figure and Vice President of the Freedom and Justice Party, initiated a generous invitation to former Egyptian Jews now living in Israel. In an interview on December 28 with Al-Ahram, the state-controlled Arabic daily newspaper, Dr. Al Eryian justified his announcement as the need for Egypt “to place itself in the right international and regional status” as it undertakes “democratic change,” – “regional” referring to the Arab-Muslim Ummah (nation). However this backfired on him when Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, objected to reparations Egypt owed to Jews as part of Dr. Al Eryian’s offer. The destruction Abbas seeks entails no such recompense.
Just six days after Egypt accepted a constitution giving unprecedented authority to Islamic religious clerics and disappointing minorities seeking to achieve equality, Dr. Al Eryian’s attempt to draw Israeli Jews with Egyptian roots back to minority status in Egypt seems more like a trap than restitution. Compensation to Jews from an Egypt in dire financial straits would be impossible and is a ridiculous notion. No reasonable person would trust it — an absurd proposition agreeable only by those who likewise seek to ruin Israel.
As a top advisor to Mr. Morsi, Dr. Al Eryian called for “Arab Jews” to vacate the state of Israel and “return to their home countries, particularly those states undergoing a transformation to democracy.” In doing so he suggests compensating Jews for their earlier losses with the overriding purpose of emptying the homes of Jews in Israel so Arab-Palestinians could fill their vacancies – a sinister proposal. This exchange of population would further what Mr. Safwat Hegazy, a fellow Brotherhood leader, declared last year during Egypt’s Presidential election requesting that Muslims around the world head toward “occupied Palestine” and liberate it from Jews. Mr. Hegazy also called for Jerusalem to be the future Capitol of the Muslim Ummah.
Egypt’s Islamic anti-Semitism led to the expulsion of Jews during the Nasser era which began before Nasser’s presidency. On June 20, 1948, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood bombed the Jewish Quarter in Cairo and exactly one month later bombarded a Jewish-owned store. Eight days after that another shop owned by Jews was blasted. More attacks occurred until the end of that year which served to make it impossible for Jews to stay in Egypt. By 1960, five hundred thousand Jews left the country.
President Nasser expelled the Jews during his time because he was implementing ethnic cleansing designed by the Muslim Brotherhood of which he was a member. Nasser was a member of a group known as Free Officers made up of Brotherhood members inside the Egyptian army who executed the coup of 1952. He was known to swear over the Koran and a gun showing loyalty to these roots.
In answer to the Nasser era, Dr. Al Eryian, an Islamist at the top of the Muslim Brotherhood party, acts dumbfounded regarding Egypt’s history of expelling Jews — an unbelievable stance. Equally suspect is his concern for Jews exclusively and not the others who exited Egypt in the same time frame. From the basis that “every Egyptian has the right to return to his country”, curiously Dr. Al Eryian only directs his welcome to former Egyptian Jews living in Israel and not the Egyptian Greeks, Egyptian Italians, Egyptian Lebanese and other non-Muslims who were forced to leave Egypt because of oppression and discrimination. Dr. Al Eryian must have a special place in his heart for Jews.
As well, his request completely ignores Copts who were forced to emigrate from Egypt for the same persecution. Many Copts who stay are forced by illegal roving bands of Islamic supremacists to abandon their homes and businesses in neighborhoods and villages. Led by street “amirs” (local Muslim Brotherhood princes), Muslim thugs threaten and coerce Christians into leaving their home towns.
It appears that Dr. Al Eryian’s particular goodwill is predicated solely upon his determination to witness the destruction of the state of Israel. His appeal stirred up many critics from inside Egypt as well as from Arab-Muslim thinkers outside, and in the end, Dr. Al Eryian paid a heavy price for what some considered to be a delusional rant. He was pressured to resign from his position as aide to the President. Mr. Morsi immediately and publicly rejected Dr. Al Eryian’s idea and distanced himself from both Dr. Al Eryian and his point of view.
The larger effect of such distractions created by high level Brotherhood members well-positioned in Mr. Morsi’s government like Dr. Al Eryian, acting alone in his outrages comments, signals fragmentation of Egypt’s current ruling class. It disrespects the office of the Presidency and Mr. Morsi himself when controversial public statements are made by officials that require the President to repudiate them. Internally, this casts a shadow over the Morsi Presidency where all is not in concert under the umbrella of the calcified dictates held equally by Muslim Brotherhood members, Freedom and Justice Party political figures, and Mr. Morsi’s advisors.
Of course another possibility behind Dr. Al Eryian’s statements could be the intentional messaging best served by divergent voices and understood as propaganda by all the actors above. In this case, for instance, demonstrate allegiance to an Arab-Muslim caliphate looking to annihilate Israel and sugar coat it for the West. Puerile and dangerous, it typifies the maddening contradictions found in maneuvers and lies of Islamists manipulating the free world. Through Dr. Al Eryian’s offer to restore losses to fifty thousand Egyptian Jews and facilitate their return to Egypt (no doubt a hollow one given the sanity of Jews), Egypt truly strives to be a democracy! What the West really sees in this is the staging of another Holocaust.
Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization, www.voiceofthecopts.org . He is a board member of Stop Islamization of Nations (SION).