A leading Jewish organization is calling on the White House to cut contacts with Egypt’s most powerful political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, over anti-Semitic remarks attributed to its spiritual guide.
Mohammed Badie said that Jews were spreading “corruption,” had slaughtered Muslims and profaned holy sites, according to comments published on the group’s website and emailed to reporters. He further called on Muslims to fight Israel, saying Zionists only understood force.
“The time has come for the Islamic nation to unite around one man for the sake of Jerusalem and Palestine,” Badie said. “The Jews have dominated the land, spread corruption on earth, spilled the blood of believers and in their actions profaned holy places, including their own.”
“Zionists only understand the language of force and will not relent without duress,” Badie continued. “This will only happen through holy Jihad, high sacrifices and all forms of resistance. The day they realize we will march this path and raise the banner of Jihad for the sake of God, is the day they will relent and stop their tyranny.”
Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon called on the US and the European Union “not to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the worrying reality.”
“Incitement and anti-Semitism in Egypt must stop before the US sends (Egypt) hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said in a telephone interview. “The direction of the new Egyptian government is very worrying and we are following with great concern what is being said and done and what is not being done there against extremists.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which monitors anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, also said the US could not pretend to conduct “business as usual” when the Brotherhood made such statements.
“We are not dealing with a YouTube video or a lone extremist imam, but a call to anti-Semitic violence by a man who has tens of millions of followers and leads the organization that controls Egypt’s future,” the center’s rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper were quoted as saying in a statement.
They called on the White House to condemn the speech, and sever official and unofficial contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Israel has increasingly become concerned over its relations with Egypt as the formerly repressed Muslim Brotherhood has risen to power with the election of an Islamist president following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The jitters come despite a pledge by newly elected President Mohammed Morsi that Egypt will abide by a 1979 peace accord with Israel.
Muslim Brotherhood members frequently make statements against Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, accusing Jews of trying to smother the city’s Islamic identity and calling on Muslims to rise up and protect the city and its holy shrines.
But Badie’s statement was the first time the group’s supreme leader has made such strong statements since Morsi’s election. Morsi has avoided speaking of Israel in public, making only pledges to respect Egypt’s international agreements.
Badie referred to longstanding Muslim calls to “defend” Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews. Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from there, while Jews call the compound the Temple Mount because of the biblical Jewish temples that stood there.
“Muslims must realize that restoring the sanctuaries and protecting honor and blood from the hands of Jews will not happen through the parlors of the United Nations, or through negotiations,” he added.
A leading member of the Brotherhood, Rashad Bayoumi, said the group can’t ignore Israel’s “offense” of Islamic shrines. He said official Egypt policy toward Israel is a separate matter.
“But what there is an offense and meanwhile an agreement,” Bayoumi said, explaining that something must be done about what he said were desecration of holy sites, and Israeli construction and digging in the holy site in the old city.
US officials were not immediately available for response. Israeli government officials said they would not comment on the speech.
Badie, 69, has headed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt since 2010, and before that served on its governing council for more than a decade. Trained in veterinary medicine and an academic by profession, he served time in jail for political activity as a young man but was pardoned by president Anwar Sadat.
Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, who was elected this summer in the aftermath of the country’s 2011 popular uprising, hails from the Brotherhood.