An Egyptian playwright went on television to criticize references to Israel as an enemy, and branded Iran as a greater threat to Egyptian security.

Ali Salem, author of numerous books and plays including a travelogue entitled “My Drive to Israel,” was asked in an interview on Al-Kahera Wal-Nas if he was disturbed when the term “Israeli enemy” is used.

“It disturbs me because it is harmful to us. The Israelis are not an enemy – at least not of the Egyptians,” Salem told his interviewer, saying “poverty and the lack of freedom” posed far more serious threats to the country.

When pinned down by the interviewer, Salem said Iran posed a greater threat to national security than Israel, “because [Iran] has an extremist religious regime.”

“In today’s world, borders are meaningless, because Iran might have people here, and it might be supporting certain people here, in order to force us to implement its governmental system,” the septuagenarian playwright said in the interview, given last week, and translated on Monday by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute).

“On the other hand, so long as there is an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, protected by the whole world, Egypt does not face any danger from Israel. There is no danger of any kind. That’s what I believe.”