Real Anti-Semitism Watch

Morsi Can't Stand—Or Sit—For Hatred

Ali Gharib on how the Egyptian President needs to pipe up about an anti-Semitic sermon he attended.

Call me a MEMRI skeptic. That's because the Middle East Media And Research Institute, which monitors and translates media from across the Muslim world, has something of a questionable past. Setting aside a board of advisers loaded down with some less-than-reliable neocons, MEMRI's at ts most troubling with its occasional mistranslations conflating Israel and Zionism with Jews in general, presenting critics of government policies and ideology, respectively, as anti-Semites.

So you'll have to forgive me for being hesitant to jump on the video MEMRI put out of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi attending a prayer service in Cairo where the Imam made anti-Jewish remarks. But I enlisted some Arabic-speaking friends, and the MEMRI translation checks out. And it's quite troubling. "Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters," says Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, according to the MEMRI translation. "Oh Allah, disperse them and rend them asunder." In the video, ripped from Egypt's Channel 1, Morsi sites cross-legged, palms to the sky, and muttered prayers as the homily is delivered.

Now, I'm not much for the "denounce this and denounce that" game, that endless cycle ideological opponents make each other run through constantly in order to find condemnable fault. But this isn't a game. This isn't some preacher Morsi sat next to once, who spewed vitriol at some other instance. This is the President of Egypt sitting in the front row, rocking slightly as Mansour lets loose what can only be considered a religious appeal to genocide.

The revelation comes just as Jimmy Carter passed along a message from Morsi to the Israelis that Egypt has no plans to unilaterally amend their historic peace treaty. And Morsi sent his new ambassador to Tel Aviv with a "message of peace." If his government means it, Morsi ought ot back it up by denouncing Mansour's hateful rhetoric toward Jews in his sermon, and do it quickly. Hostility to Israel may be a feature of political sentiments in Egypt's young democracy, but Mansour's homily went well beyond that into outright anti-Semitism—something no head of state should literally sit by and watch happen without saying something.