Essam el-Erian, a top advisor to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, has resigned from his position, Egyptian media reported Sunday. Although the report said that el-Arian had willingly made the decision because he was “occupied with other work,” analysts said that there was no doubt that he was pressure to quit – after inviting back to Egypt the descendants of Jews who were thrown out of the country, or who fled due to anti-Semitic violence.
A report on Israel Radio quoted Egyptian state-controlled radio as broadcasting a statement from el-Erian, who said he had decided to quit his position as a presidential advisor after being appointed to lead his Freedom and Justice Party's faction in the upper house of Egypt's parliament. However, the report said, el-Erian has been doing that job for nearly a month, without anyone raising the “conflict of interest” issue.
A more likely reason, Israeli analysts said, was the displeasure many in Egypt expressed over his calle last week for Jews who were booted out of the country to return home, in order to protect themselves from the inevitable destruction of Israel.
“I wish that all our Jews would return to our country, so they can make room for the Palestinians to return to their homes, and Jews return to their homeland, to be a part of our democracy,” el-Erian said in a television interview last week. “Why remain living in a racist country, led by occupiers who will be punished for war crimes,” he added. The comments met with much derision by Egyptian commentators, who accused el-Erian of crimes ranging from seeking to please the U.S. to being a “Zionist” himself. Numerous radical Islamist group, several of them now allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which el-Erian is a member, said that if the Jews did try to return to Egypt, they would be killed on their first day in the country.
There were about 80,000 Jews in Egypt in the 1920s, but the Jewish population of the country began dwindling in the 1930s and 1940s, as Egyptians conducted numerous pogroms against the community. Hundreds were killed in riots after the establishment of the State of Israel, and by 1950, nearly half of the country's Jewish population had left Egypt. Most of the rest left during the later 1950s and 1960s, and those who remained after the 1967 Six Day War were largely thrown out of the country, or imprisoned and tortured for years before they were allowed to leave.