Eight senators met with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday as part of a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee delegation trip to Egypt. The senators in attendance were John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher Coons (D-DE) and John Hoeven (R-ND).
The senators’ meeting with Morsi took place in the wake of the exposure of anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist speeches made by Morsi three years ago. In the newly resurfaced videos of these speeches, Morsi called for Egyptians “to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred …for Zionists, for Jews,” referring to Zionists as “bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
The senators voiced their condemnation of Morsi’s remarks in strong terms, with Sen. Gillibrand issuing a statement that “President Morsi’s offensive remarks towards Israel and the Jewish people are troublesome and deeply disturbing. I was very specific and direct with President Morsi deploring these comments.” Sen. McCain noted that the senators “voiced our strong disapproval” of the remarks.
In spite of their reservations over Morsi’s comments, the senators emphasized their support for Egypt’s transition to democracy. “We all believe in the continued importance of the US-Egypt relationship,” Sen. McCain said, and called for “a truly strategic partnership between our peoples, our nations and our elected governments.”
The senators indicated they would urge Congress to provide Egypt with aid and encourage American business investment, but noted that future instances of inflammatory rhetoric or antidemocratic measures would have a potentially negative impact on U.S. aid and business cooperation.