Monday, November 2, 2009

I Reject Anti-Semitism and Respect Egypt's Pluralism

Published on Wall Street Journal

Monday, November 2, 2009

The authors of "Why Are Egypt's Liberals Anti-Semitic?" (op-ed, Oct. 26), Amr Bargisi and Samuel Tadros, quote me at a conference I was invited to attend in the city of Port Said, Egypt shortly after my release from prison after contesting President Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections.

I would like to clarify a few points regarding the statements attributed to me in the article. First, neither myself nor my party, El-Ghad, were the organizers of this forum. I was invited to attend in my personal capacity, and to make a short statement. I was not responsible for any graffiti or items placed on the banners in the conference.

Furthermore, my statements referred specifically to Israel's conduct during the Gaza war, which in my opinion was highly objectionable.

I was distraught over the excessive loss of civilian life in Gaza, and I regret that my comments were expressed in a way that was unclear and that may have understandably offended.

Anyone examining my record can easily discern that I have always supported and upheld Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, and have strongly opposed calls of aggression against Israel.

I have also consistently called for a peaceful and just resolution to the Arab Israeli conflict. I gave a recent interview published in Commentary magazine where I stated, "El-Ghad supports every treaty made by Egypt before and will keep it going. We want to ensure peace with every country in the world."

I would like to conclude that the "anti-Semitic" label is one that I strongly reject. My critiques pertain to the conduct of the state of Israel in certain contexts and not to the Jewish people as a whole. The history of Egypt is replete with contributions from Jewish Egyptians, and that history of pluralism that once defined Egypt is one that I recall fondly and deeply respect.

Principles of religious pluralism and mutual respect and tolerance are principles that I strongly advocate not just in my position as a political activist, but as a human being.

Ayman Nour

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