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May 16, 2015
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Egyptian Historian Maged Farag: Our Enemy Today Is Gaza, Not Israel

#4974 | 05:36

In an Egyptian TV interview, historian Maged Farag called for normalized cultural relations with Israel and said: "Our enemy today is Gaza, not Israel." In the interview, which aired on Al-Assema TV on May 16, he further said: "The Palestinian state is not my concern." A week later, the TV host responded to the interest the show had generated in the Israeli media. She called normalization a "newly coined, foreign word" and said: "We reject your very presence in the region."

Following are excerpts from the two shows:

May 16, 2015

Maged Farag: We must rid ourselves of the outdated cultural heritage according to which these are our enemies and these...

Interviewer: You believe that our hostility toward Israel is an outdated cultural heritage?

Maged Farag: Absolutely. That's what I believe. You are free to believe in something else. I personally believe that there is no enmity between us any more. That's it, it's over.


Let us be realistic. All the countries in the world fought one another, but these wars are over.

Interviewer: Only the military wars ended - and even those did not end everywhere in the world - but there are other kinds of war...

Maged Farag: Let me explain it to you. Give me a chance to finish the point...

Interviewer: Go ahead.

Maged Farag: There are countries that fought one another - America fought Russia, Russia fought Germany, Germany fought France, France fought...

Interviewer: All the countries of Europe fought one another...

Maged Farag: True, but today, Europe is (practically) a unified country. Not only have the countries reconciliated, but they have become a single country, united by their (joint) interests. There is no such thing as eternal enmity or eternal friendship - only eternal interests.

Interviewer: Would a European country forgive another country plundering its land?

Maged Farag: Let's talk for a moment about the plundering of land. First of all, my land is not plundered. It was returned to me in full. End of story.

Interviewer: You got it back through war.

Maged Farag: No, I didn't. We got it back first by means of war, and then by means of peace.

Interviewer: Yes, but before peace, the reality was determined by weapons.

Maged Farag: This repeats itself throughout history among all nations of the world. After war comes peace, and one begins to act accordingly. People don't continue to hate and attack one another. This doesn't serve anybody's interests. I don't think it serves Egypt's interests to...

Interviewer: In what way does Israel benefit us?

Maged Farag: I didn't come here to talk on behalf of Israel.

Interviewer: But as long as it's your view...

Maged Farag: In my view, Israel can benefit us in many fields.

Interviewer: Such as?

Maged Farag: Israel is advanced in many areas, such as agriculture and technology...

Interviewer: When they interfered in our agriculture everything was destroyed.

Maged Farag: Says who?

Interviewer: Well, former agriculture minister Yousef Wali is facing trial...

Maged Farag: For what? For importing carcinogenic substances?

Interviewer: He collaborated with (Israel) in a way unprecedented in the history of Egyptian agriculture.


Maged Farag: The people were raised on a certain ideology, and they refuse to change it. I call upon them...

Interviewer: It's not a matter of education. The situation has not changed, so why should I?

Maged Farag: That's exactly the point. Reality has changed. My enemy today is Gaza, not Israel...

Interviewer: Who told you that?

Maged Farag: I am telling you. That is our enemy today.


Interviewer: As far as I am concerned, our main historical enemy is Israel.

Maged Farag: There is no such thing as an historical enemy.

Interviewer: (Israel) is our strategic enemy.

Maged Farag: This is nothing but empty talk...

Interviewer: No, it isn't.

Maged Farag: The Egyptian state and government recognize the so-called "entity" - because you won't call it anything else...

Interviewer: The state is free to recognize whatever it wants...

Maged Farag: I am an Egyptian citizen, and I respect my country's resolutions.

Interviewer: The state did not tell you to normalize cultural relations.

Maged Farag: On the contrary, the state does not impose normalization on anybody... It is not up to the state to establish normalized cultural relations. Culture is a personal matter, not a matter for the government. One of our greatest mistakes is that we have a "ministry of culture."

Interviewer: One of our greatest mistakes?

Maged Farag: No civilized country has a ministry of culture.

Interviewer: So what do they have?

Maged Farag: Nothing. Culture is a matter for the people. Do you know any European country, for example, with a ministry of culture? There isn't any.


Nobody can impose his view on me. I am a free man, in a free country. This free country of ours has permitted relations with another country - diplomatic relations, political relations, and relations in all other fields - and nobody can...

Interviewer: Has any Egyptian president visited Israel?

Maged Farag: Anwar Sadat visited Israel, and so did Hosni Mubarak.

Interviewer: The visit of the leader Anwar Sadat to Israel should be viewed in the context of the preparations for the peace accord.

Maged Farag: Fine, and my visit is preparing for a cultural peace accord.

Interviewer: No, never.

Maged Farag: You are free to think that.


Let me correct the information you have.

Interviewer: Go ahead.

Maged Farag: The Palestinian state is not my concern.

Interviewer: It concerns Egypt. It is a matter of national security.

Maged Farag: You are free to believe this. I am not interested in the Palestinian issue any more. It's over, as far as I'm concerned.

Interviewer: Anything pertaining to the security of Egypt...

Maged Farag: It's in the interest of Egypt's security to have peace with its neighbors, as well as cooperation, and normalized relations.


May 23, 2015

Interviewer: The Israeli media took a great interest in this show. The Israeli media said that an Egyptian TV host on an Egyptian TV channel set a trap for Maged Farag, and that he is a respectable man who does not deserve such treatment. It said that the Egyptian media staunchly opposes normalization of relations. Of course we do. What is normalization? What does that newly coined, foreign word mean? We reject you on the most basic level. We reject your very presence in the region. This land is Arab land.


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