The frontrunner in Egypt's upcoming presidential election - former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa - has a long history of Israel-baiting and whitewashing the threat posed by Iran. In an interview published Friday by the Wall Street Journal, Moussa described an Egyptian political landscape dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood after parliamentary elections in September and indicated that he would take a tougher line toward Israel than ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
Writing in The New Republic, Foreign Policy Research Institute scholar Eric Trager observes that Moussa owes his political ascendance to "his shameless exploitation of anti-Israel demagoguery for political gain."
Moussa's animus towards the Jewish State was immortalized by pop singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim, who recorded the Egyptian hit song "I Hate Israel." The song includes a line, "I Hate Israel and I love Amr Moussa."
Trager marshals considerable evidence documenting Moussa's hostility against Israel.
As Egyptian foreign minister from 1991-2001 and Arab League secretary-general since 2001 (he will step down May 15), Moussa has been consistent in his efforts to marginalize Israel. Before his first official visit in August 1994, Moussa triggered a firestorm of controversy when he indicated he would refuse to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Moussa eventually agreed to go there after intense diplomatic pressure, but refused to enter the Hall of Remembrance where he would have been forced to wear a yarmulke.
Moussa claimed U.S. support for Israel had "poisoned" the peace process and he supported Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's refusal to compromise on Jerusalem during the failed Camp David negotiations with Israel during the summer of 2000. When Arafat launched a war against Israel in September 2000, Moussa called on the Arab world to support him.
As Arab League secretary-general starting in 2001, Moussa condemned the 9/11 attacks, but refused to participate in any anti-terrorism campaign that included Israel - a nation he accused of "slaughtering" Palestinians. During Israel's summer 2006 war with Hizballah, he attacked Israel for "targeting civilians."
Moussa, who has said Hamas "is not a terror group," criticized Arab governments who supported Israel's 2008-2009 war against Hamas and said that any Arab country that pursued normalization with Israel would face a "tough" reaction. He has also called for a "no-fly zone" over Gaza, implicitly equating Israeli actions with Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's attacks against his people.
Moussa has minimized the threat from Iran. He has reportedly suggested that Israel, rather than Iran, poses the main nuclear threatto Middle East countries – a point noted approvingly in Tehran.
Read the full New Republic article here.