Liberalism

02.12.13

An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Idea for Dealing with Israeli Jews

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images ()

I missed this end of year internal debate within Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood about how to deal with Israeli Jews. Expel them from Palestine and re-subject them to Islamic rule in Egypt and other adjoining countries? But that implies living next door to them - perhaps even compensating them for stolen property - which is plainly unthinkable. It's amusing to be reminded that not even anti-Semitism is a monolith, that even this retrograde prejudice also contains its fierce internal subdivisions

From Ha'aretz, Dec. 28, 2012:

Essam al-Erian, deputy chief of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, called on Thursday for Egyptian Jews who immigrated to Israel to return home.

"I call on the Egyptian Jews to return to their homeland," he said in an interview with Egyptian network Dream TV. "They must refuse to continue living under an oppressive and racist regime that stains them with crimes against humanity."

In the interview, al-Erian: "Why did Gamal Abdel Nasser have to expel them from Egypt? They consequently participated in occupying Arab lands." He added that Egypt has no right to prevent the return of any Egyptian, and that the Jews could have their property back. This way, he said, "they will make room for the Palestinians, since the Palestinians' right of return is indisputable and no one can cancel it."

Naturally, al-Erian's statements drew criticism from all sides. One lawyer, Mohammed Salem, demanded that the attorney general take legal steps against al-Erian for "harming the country's independence… by spreading statements that may damage national security. He warned against "opening the gates of Egypt before the Zionist enemy."

Dr. Mohamed Younis, former dean of the law faculty at Helwan University, voiced a different concern. He warned that al-Erian's statements to return property to Jews could force the state to pay huge sums of money as reparations, even though it was not forcefully taken from them – and all this "when the country is facing economic collapse."