US condemns Morsi's 2010 anti-Semitic remarks

White House says Egyptian president's comments labeling Jews as "descendants of apes and pigs" are "deeply offensive."

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – A group of US senators condemned Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s 2010 comments about Zionists and Jews in a meeting with the leader in Cairo Wednesday.
“President Morsi’s offensive remarks towards Israel and the Jewish people are troublesome and deeply disturbing,” Sen.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) said in a statement released following the meeting. “I was very specific and direct with President Morsi deploring these comments.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who was also on the trip, also released a statement noting that the senators “voiced our strong disapproval” to Morsi’s remarks as part of a “constructive discussion” on the subject.
The senators were reacting to comments made by Morsi in 2010 that recently surfaced in which he said Egyptians must “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred toward those Zionists and Jews” and in another case referred to them as “these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
The White House condemned the remarks Tuesday and said it had raised its concerns over the matter with the Egyptian government.
“The language that we have seen is deeply offensive. We completely reject the statements, as we do any language that espouses religious hatred,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in response to a question about Morsi’s words.
“This kind of discourse has been acceptable in the region for far too long and is counter to the goal of peace,” Carney added. “President Morsi should make clear that he respects people of all faiths, and that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable or productive in a democratic Egypt.”
In response, Morsi said his comments had been taken out of context.
He told the senators that the remarks needed to be put “in the context in which they were said,” his spokesman reported in a statement.
The context was Israeli “aggression” against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the spokesman said, likely a reference to Israel’s military operation in Gaza in 2008 and 2009.
Despite the criticism over Morsi’s remarks, McCain indicated that the visiting senators still saw Egypt as an important interlocutor.
“We all believe in the continued importance of the US-Egypt relationship,” he said, describing the revolution in Egypt as an opportunity “to make it a truly strategic partnership between our peoples, our nations and our elected governments.”
But he warned that America’s ability to continue its ties and aid to Egypt depended on the progress of democracy in Egypt and its willingness to keep its international agreements.
Reuters contributed to this report.