Sunday, January 6, 2013
The Egyptian Idea of Brotherhood
by Jonathan S. Tobin
Not much is expected to change at the State Department when John Kerry replaces Hillary Clinton. That’s especially true in terms of the Middle East, where Kerry is not expected to be any more eager to push Iran than Clinton. Nor is he likely to take a more jaundiced view of the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, which was been the particular object of U.S. affection in the latter half of 2012 as Mohamed Morsi consolidated power without much in the way of protest from an administration that continues to funnel billions in aid to Cairo. Kerry appears to share the State Department consensus that Morsi and the Brotherhood are deserving of continued American largesse and regards the Islamists as a moderating force in the region rather than as the enablers of Hamas.
It remains to be seen whether his former Senate colleagues will press Kerry much on the subject. But in case anyone on the Hill is inclined to buy into the happy talk about the Brotherhood that is being sold by the State Department and mainstream media outlets eager to portray the Brotherhood as the Egyptian equivalent of the Islamist government of Turkey that President Obama is so fond of, they ought to take a look at this video uncovered by Memritv.org, the indispensable window into the Arab media. In this 2010 appearance on Lebanon’s Al Quds TV, the Brotherhood leader and future Egyptian president not only denounces any peace negotiations with Israelis, whom he called bloodsuckers, warmongers, and “the descendants of apes and pigs,” but also called for a boycott of U.S. products.
This should come as a bit of a surprise to readers of publications like the New York Times, whose correspondents and columnists such as Nicholas Kristof have been at great pains to portray the Brotherhood as nice people with so much in common with Americans. In the rush to embrace the idea that the Brotherhood victory is a triumph for democracy, the group’s ideology, its members and its leaders have all been airbrushed into a picture of modern and tolerant Islam rather than being shown as the font of anti-Western and anti-Semitic hate that it actually has always been.
Those who believe that Morsi is a different man now that he sits in Hosni Mubarak’s old chair with the former dictator’s powers also need to understand that he is the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran in a generation and has continued to attend prayer services, where rhetoric such as he used in the Lebanese show continues to be heard.
Kerry, whose weakness for Arab tyrants was demonstrated by his friendship with the Assad regime in Syria, has always been the sort of person who preferred to believe in his illusions about Middle Eastern leaders rather than his lying eyes and ears. Those who expect anything but grief and violence in the long term from an American embrace of the Brotherhood are bound to be disappointed. As this Morsi tape demonstrates, Egypt is now led by a first-class hatemonger that has little use for peace with Israel or friendship with the United States.
Jonathan S. Tobin
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