Recent Controversies in Egypt Illustrate Anti-Israel Sentiment Still Prevalent

  • March 2, 2016

Recent controversies in Egypt illustrate the prevalence of anti-Israel sentiment in a country which has had a peace agreement with Israel since 1979.

The latest incident involved a dinner invitation by Egyptian Parliamentarian Tawfiq Okasha to Israeli Ambassador Haim Koren. Okasha, a TV personality who has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks on his show, was subsequently ousted from Egypt’s Parliament after being accused of engaging in normalization efforts towards Israel. He was also physically attacked byanother Parliamentarian, Kamal Ahmad, who hurled his shoe at Okasha in protest.In a video, Ahmad explained that his action was intended not only toward Okasha, but also toward the Knesset and the “Zionist Entity.” The Al-Yawm As-Sabi news site hosts a video game where players can use a shoe to hit Okasha across the face. At the top of the screen appears the title “Congratulations, Okasha”, and he is depicted with a black eye in the backdrop of the Israeli flag.

MP Tawfik Okasha (right) hosts Israeli ambassador Haim Koren.

MP Tawfik Okasha (right) hosts Israeli ambassador Haim Koren.

Another example of anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt occurred earlier this month when the Cairo International Book Fair featured an Israeli book, Arabian Nights.Com, which was written by Israel Army Radio’s Arab affairs analyst Jackie Hougie. Its inclusion resulted in Parliamentarian Muhammad Al-Masud demanding that Egypt’s Culture Minister launch an investigation into the decision to sell the book at the fair.

And a few weeks prior to that, Egyptian authorities ordered the canceling of a screening of Israeli film The Band’s Visit. The film, from 2007, tells the story of an Egyptian band arriving in Israel, and deals with the issue of coexistence between Israelis and Egyptians. When the issue became public, Mohammed Munir, the Governor of the Cairo District, ordered that the screening be canceled, and announced an investigation to determine which official had initially approved the film screening.