In the wake of the controversy aroused in Egypt by the meeting between MP Tawfiq Okasha and the Israeli ambassador, Egyptian MP Mahmoud Badr, founder of the Tamarod Movement, which was active in the ousting of former president Morsi, argued that politicians and intellectuals who visit "the Zionist entity" do not represent the Egyptian people, who hate Israel. Researcher Saeed Okasha retorted that Egypt's relations with Israel are in keeping with its interests, and warned MP Badr that his statements were being recorded by MEMRI, and would be passed on to Congressmen and member of European parliaments. The debate aired on Dream TV on February 27, 2016.
Egyptian MP: "Dr. Tawfik Okasha's [meeting with the Israeli ambassador], and even what Dr. Saeed Okasha here did, or the several dozens or hundreds of Egyptians who travel to Israel... As far as I am concerned, they do not represent the Egyptian people at all. They do not represent the natural sentiment of the Egyptians, who hate Israel, and who consider it to be the historical enemy of Egypt."
Researcher: "With regards to Egypt's relations with Israel – sometimes, Israel is an enemy, sometimes it is a competitor, and other times, the relations are entirely normal. There is no need to look at it this way. You are a very one-dimensional man. If you act this way in parliament as well, it will be shameful. Your job is to inform people, rather than talk to them the way you talk on the street."
Egyptian MP: "No sir, I am defending the interests of my country. What you are saying runs counter to the interests of our country."
Researcher: "There is an organization called MEMRI. They record everything in the Arab media..."
Egyptian MP: "You've got me really scared now..."
Researcher: "They are recording us right now. They will take the things you say... listen till the end. If you really care about Egypt's interests..."
Egyptian MP: "Don't try to intimidate me with some organization I don't know."
Researcher: "I'm not trying to intimidate you. Don't you want this information?"
Egyptian MP: "You didn't answer my question..."
Researcher: "Do you want this information or not?"
Egyptian MP: "Go ahead, tell me. Let them record us, I don't care."
Researcher: "This organization is not going to assassinate you. All it does is record, make translated clips, and send them to Congressmen and to members of European parliaments. Those MPs watch the clips and see a member of the Egyptian parliament calling Israel 'the Zionist entity,' instead of calling it a state. That's just one thing. You've called it 'the Zionist entity' throughout the show."
Egyptian MP: "That's true, and I'm proud of it."
Egyptian MP: "The Egyptian people is against normalization. It is our duty to teach the new generations that our interests contradict the interests of that entity."
"Our war with them is not a simple conflict. There is a perpetual conflict of interests. This conflict is about our very existence. They don't want us to exist. Everything that is happening in the Arab region – the fragmentation of Iraq, of Syria, and of our Arab countries – serves the interests of Israel, and if you can't see this, you have a problem."
Researcher: "Israel is a state with which we have an agreement. I view it as a state that could be an enemy at some point, could be a competitor, and could be a state with which we have regular relations."
"At this point in time, I view Israel as a regular country. I have no problem with it. We benefit from coordination with Israel. They allow us to violate the peace accord, with our military movements in Area C of the Sinai. If I denied that we benefit from this, I would be lying. I don't want to lose this possibility, but you want to lose it for me.
Egyptian MP: "I am defending Egypt's interests, which you and others are harming. You and others are harming the interests of Egypt."