- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. on Wednesday expressed concern about developments in Egypt, citing a Washington Times’ interview with a leading secular Egyptian politician who denies the Holocaust and says the Sept. 11 attacks were “made in the USA.”

Ambassador Michael Oren said Israel sees “risks as well as opportunities” in the so-called Arab Spring of popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes, such as the Egyptian revolution that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak in February.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen in Egypt. It appears very chaotic there,” Mr. Oren said in a conference call with reporters organized by the Israel Project.

He noted the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the formerly banned Islamist group that is expected to gain significant political influence during Egypt’s transition to democracy.

“But it’s not only the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “Today in [The Times] you’ll see the leader of the Wafd Party in Egypt - a secular, democratic movement - this leader of the Wafd Party coming out and denying the Holocaust, saying that Osama bin Laden was an agent of the United States, that 9/11 was perpetrated by American leaders to vilify the Arab world.”

In that interview, Ahmed Ezz El-Arab, a vice chairman of the Wafd Party, also called Anne Frank’s famous memoir about hiding from the Nazis a “fake” and mocked President Obama as the “black rabbit taken out of the American hat when it was needed” by the “intelligent American elite that is ruling.”

Mr. Ezz El-Arab also said that American soldiers of “double Israeli nationality” had stolen antiquities from Iraq and reburied them in Jerusalem to cement Israel’s claim to the city.

“If such statements are coming by the secular and democratic leadership in Egypt, what can we expect from the radicals is a source of concern,” Mr. Oren said.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Wafd Party and several other Egyptian voting blocs last month announced they would run jointly in parliamentary elections in September to preserve national unity during the transition.

Mr. Ezz El-Arab called allegations that the Brotherhood is untrustworthy “rubbish” and said that even with a Brotherhood-influenced government, there is “no chance at all” that Egypt would end its 1979 peace treaty with Israel unless attacked.

Turning to other regional issues, Mr. Oren said the Jewish state would welcome a regime change in Syria but worries that Islamic radicals might hijack democratic revolutions in countries like Egypt and transform them into “terrorist strongholds.”

“In the case of Lebanon and Gaza, those terrorist strongholds ended up being also launching pads for firing thousands and thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians, at our farms, and cities and towns, so we know very well from personal and painful experience how a seemingly positive, democratizing process can be transformed,” the ambassador said.