The following editorial appeared in The New York Times on Wednesday:
When Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s president in June, he rose, unknown and untested, from the Muslim Brotherhood to the leader of the most important Arab country. He has made missteps and some truly alarming decisions, but there was still reason to hope that he might grow into the job and become the kind of leader that could benefit Egypt and the region.
His scurrilous comments from nearly three years ago about Zionists and Jews, which just came to light, have raised serious doubts about whether he can ever be the force for moderation and stability that is needed. As reported by David Kirkpatrick in The Times, Morsi is shown in a video from 2010 delivering a speech in which he urges Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. In a television interview months later, he described Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
That kind of pure bigotry is unacceptable anywhere, anytime. But it is even more offensive in public discourse, coming from someone who became the president of a major country. Morsi’s comments deserve to be condemned unequivocally, as the Obama administration did Tuesday; Jay Carney, the president’s spokesman, called the language “deeply offensive” and said the White House “completely rejects these statements.”
The problem goes deeper than just Morsi, however. The remarks were made at a time when anti-Israel sentiment was running high in Egypt and the region after the three-week Gaza conflict in 2009 between Israel and Hamas. The sad truth is that defaming Jews is an all too standard feature of Egyptian, and Arab, discourse; Israelis are not immune to responding in kind, either.
Teaching children to hate and dehumanizing one’s adversaries is just the kind of twisted mentality that fuels the conflicts that torment the region.
Does Morsi really believe what he said in 2010? Has becoming president made him think differently about the need to respect and work with all people? So far, there has been no official reaction. The White House called for Morsi to make clear that he respects members of all faiths and said the videotaped remarks run counter to the goal of peace. President Barack Obama should also deliver that message to Morsi directly.
The New York Times