Israeli ‘symbolic’ temple advert prompts response from Egypt’s Mursi

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An Israeli advertisement circulating online this week has ruffled the feathers of online commentators in Egypt who claim the ad “insults” President Mohammed Mursi, prompting the premier on Wednesday to launch an investigation.

Mursi ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare a report about an Israeli ad that has been decried as “offensive” to the Egyptian president, the state-run news agency MENA reported.

The advert named “The Children are Ready” is produced by the Israel-based Temple Institute – a non-profit educational and religious organization which promotes the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon – and begins by showing an Israeli family on the beach.

The family is playfully running on the beach; the children build an elaborate sand castle, or temple, while a man, presumed to be their father, sits to read a newspaper.

But after they build the temple and to look at it, the father throws the newspaper. It falls at his feet, clearly showing an image of Mursi on the page.

Social media users “allege that the symbolic message [within the advert] is that the Egyptian president will not prevent Israel from building temples,” Egypt Independent reported on Tuesday.

A caption beneath the video, posted by the organization on video sharing site YouTube states: “Two children change the world while their father reads the newspaper.”

The video was re-posted by Arab users with the title (in Arabic): “An Israeli advert insults President Mursi.”

Egyptian media reports state that in reponse to the advert, Yasser Ali, the president’s spokesperson, was quoted by state-run news source MENA as saying that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is responsible for responding to all international matters, especially those related to Israel.

Israel has been anxious since President Mursi, a former senior Muslim Brotherhood official, assumed office following the mass Egyptian uprising which overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Israel is fearful of the political changes Mursi’s presidency could bring to Israel’s relationship with Egypt, including the future of the Camp David Accords.

However the president has said he would respect the treaty.

“It is no secret that Israel is not happy with the rise of the Muslim Brothers in the parliamentary and presidential elections,” Dr. Omar Ashour, Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Exeter and visiting fellow at the Brookings think tank in Doha told Al Arabiya.

“Mubarak was a ‘strategic treasure’ for Israel, and now the Israeli government have to deal with a group that volunteered to fight against Israel as early as 1948."

“The ad expresses the frustrations with this reality. Many Israeli officials believe that Egypt’s revolution was a direct loss for Israel,” Ashour added.
When contacted by Al Arabiya on Tuesday, a spokesperson from the Temple Institute was unable to be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, a statement on the group’s website says: “The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual wellbeing of both Israel and all the nations of the world.”

The Temple of Solomon was built in the 6th century BC. It was expanded by King Herod before its destruction in 70 AD. According to regional media reports, rebuilding the temple would likely undermine the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem, which is located near where the temple once stood.