Egyptian Academics Hold Conference To Discuss 'Demise of Israel'

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israel responded coolly Monday to a conference of Egyptian academics and intellectuals, which gathered over the weekend to discuss the eradication of the Jewish State.

The group discussed what they believe to be the imminent downfall of Israel as well as the overthrow of moderate Arab regimes.

Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel twenty years ago and establish full diplomatic relations, which have been cool at best. Nevertheless, the government-controlled press has regularly expressed virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli sentiments for years.

The U.S. is leaning heavily on Egypt, which has been the main Arab broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to try to bring about a cessation of violence in the region - a prelude to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Israeli government had no immediate comment about the conference, but an Israeli official in Jerusalem said it was "very disappointing" that the Egyptian government would permit such an event to take place.

"It is very disappointing," said an Israeli source in Jerusalem. "If the Egyptian regime had wanted to stop [the conference] they could have done it," said the source, who asked not to be named.

"It is not legitimate to say any country does not have the right to exist," she said. It is something that is not acceptable, especially when Israel and Egypt have a peace treaty, she added, noting that such a conference acts to indoctrinate the next generation against Israel.

"I thought this era of [talking about] abolishing Israel was over," she said.

A spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League in Jerusalem, Laura Kam-Issacharoff, also put the onus on the Egyptian government to at least come out with a statement against such activities.

"I think that the silence on the part of the Egyptian government to such ideas emanating from such group is deafening, even if the group is private or religious," Kam-Issacharoff said.

"Hearing such thoughts is certainly not surprising, but it is disheartening nonetheless," she added.

Wire reports from the conference quoted participants discussing how they could hasten the demise of Israel and topple moderate Arab regimes.

"We should probe ways on how to bring that date sooner rather than later," the moderator was quoted as telling the opening session of the seminar.

"Israel will collapse, it is doomed, but what is necessary is the collapse of the Arab system," said Islamic activist Hassan el-Sayad.

"We should fight this racist pocket [Israel] planted in the heart of the Arab nation," said Salah Abdel Karim, deputy head of Egypt for Culture and Dialogue, the group of Islamic and leftists activists which organized the meeting in Cairo.

Journalists also participated in the event.

"This entity will not collapse on its own, we should escalate its downfall," Adel el-Gogri, a columnist at the opposition Al-Ahrar daily was quoted as saying.

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