Egypt Becoming More Accepting of Jews, Israel Under New Leadership

Washington, DC

In direct contrast to the Muslim Brotherhood regime that ruled Egypt just a couple of years ago, the new government in Cairo under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has built a cordial relationship with the Jewish people and has remained an honest broker in negotiating mutually beneficial agreements with the State of Israel.

One such example of President Sisi’s outreach to the Jewish community was when he recently hosted a delegation from the American Jewish Community (AJC) in the midst of engaging with Islamic radicals in the Sinai Peninsula, the JTA reports. The conversation reportedly focused on the mutual interests of both Egypt and Israel, such as a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how the two sides could work together to stifle a nuclear Iran.

During the Muslim Brotherhood’s tumultuous reign, engaging the Jewish community was not only unheard of, it was likely considered treasonous activity, coming from a regime swept up in anti-Semitic paranoia and conspiracy. In one such address, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohamed Morsi, infamously described Jews as “bloodsuckers” who are the “descendants of apes and pigs.” When he was routinely condemned for libeling the Jewish people, Morsi blamed the “Jewish-controlled media” for supposedly distorting his remarks.

Although Egypt suffers from widespread anti-Semitism throughout the country, the word “Jew” is not used as often as a curse word, the JTA reports, and many see the Muslim Brotherhood as the premier threat to Egypt’s security, replacing the “Zionists” as the primary enemy of the Egyptian people, according to reports.

During Israel’s war with Hamas last summer, the Egyptian government routinely condemned Hamas–an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood regime under Morsi–for its escalatory behavior.

American and Israeli leaders have seen a noticeable change in the behavior of the Egyptian government.

In March, President Sisi said that he talks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a lot,” a practice that has not been seen since the days of the Camp David Accords, and with such commonality that was unheard of before his government came to power in June 2014.

After meeting with President Sisi, the AJC’s Jason Isaacson found the new government to be much more open to the Jewish community. “I find more tolerance,” Isaacson said. “I find more respect for Israel and more feeling of commonality between Egyptian and Israeli strategic concerns with common attitudes towards Hamas, especially toward the connections between Hamas and other extremist groups,” he added.