In an Al-Arabiya TV interview, Egyptian playwright Ali Salem said that Hamas and ISIS, and not Israel, were Egypt's enemy.
Following are excerpts from the interview, which aired on December 17, 2014:
Interviewer: After all these years, your position regarding Israel has not changed?
Ali Salem: Of course it hasn't. Nothing has happened that would change it.
Interviewer: What about the Israeli aggression against Gaza and Lebanon…
Ali Salem: If we had true peace and normal relations with them, there would be no wars with such ferocity.
Interviewer: But who bears responsibility for that? Not the Israelis? Who bears responsibility for the absence of peace?
Ali Salem: All parties. We opposed normalization from day one.
Interviewer: You are against normalization?
Ali Salem: Not me. I mean the Egyptian people.
Interviewer: Well, that's a good thing.
Ali Salem: I am not talking about the man on the street.
Interviewer: Who then?
Ali Salem: I am talking about the educated intellectuals.
Interviewer: You expect the political leadership to impose peace and normalization upon the people?
Ali Salem: I want it to act in keeping with the interests of the people by normalizing relations with Israel.
Interviewer: What about the historical heritage? What about the land that was lost? What about the blood that was shed?
Ali Salem: Stop right there. History is full of bloodshed that culminated in peace.
Interviewer: Israel is an enemy and will remain an enemy forever. Let me ask you a question from the opposite perspective…
Ali Salem: Israel is not an enemy.
Interviewer: So who is the enemy?
Ali Salem: Hamas, for example, and ISIS…
Interviewer: Hamas?! Can my hostility towards Hamas – which is my flesh and blood – possibly equal my hostility towards Israel?
Ali Salem: Your flesh and blood?! Seriously?!
Interviewer: Of course. Am I not an Arab? My brother will remain my brother even if he kills me.
Ali Salem: Let's not romanticize things. People complain about our lack of sovereignty [in Sinai]. The tunnels were dug under Hamas authority, and we have to wage war and die in order [to destroy] these tunnels. Hamas had sovereignty there. The Hamas government split from the Palestinian Authority.
Interviewer: Nevertheless, we must not fall into the trap of equating Hamas with Israel.
Ali Salem: I am not equating anything, I'm just saying, with the utmost modesty, that we must live in harmony with our neighbors, especially considering that we have a peace treaty with them.