WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday strongly condemned remarks that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi made almost three years ago about Jews.
Morsi was a Muslim Brotherhood leader in 2010 when, according to a video obtained by The New York Times, he asked Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred." Months later, in a television interview, Morsi referred to Zionists as bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, describing Zionists as "the descendants of apes and pigs."
"The language that we have seen is deeply offensive," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. "We completely reject these statements, as we do any language that espouses religious hatred."
The Obama administration called for Morsi to make clear he respects members of all faiths, saying the comments heard in the video are at odds with Egypt's democratic aspirations and the best interest of the region. "This kind of discourse has been acceptable in the region for far too long, and is counter to the goal of peace," Carney said.
Morsi's remarks and the Obama administration's rebuke marked a new point of tension in the complex relationship between the U.S. and Egypt's fledgling democracy.
Since being elected in June of 2012 in the aftermath of the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, Morsi has promised to abide by Egypt's decades-old peace treaty with Israel. Morsi was also instrumental in facilitating a ceasefire in November between Israel and Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, despite his refusal to speak directly with Israeli officials.
The White House on Tuesday noted Morsi's willingness during that crisis to work with the U.S. toward mutual goals, and said Egypt's continuing commitment to its peace treaty with Israel is essential for U.S. relations with Egypt.