Morsi Asks Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Investigate Temple Institute Ad
Controversy has spread from what some Egyptians see as an insult to newly elected President Mohamed Morsi who was featured in a viral advertisement for the Temple Institute, an Israeli non profit centered on teaching the significance of the destroyed ancient Jewish Temple of Jerusalem.
The advertisement was released in advance of Tisha B’Av, a Jewish day of fasting and mourning that occurs this Sunday and commemorates the destruction of both Jewish Temples in Jerusalem and other national tragedies. For Jews, the commemoration of the past temples is inextricably bound with the hope of their rebuilding, a stated aim of the Institute, which issued the video in “an attempt to positively refocus people’s attention during the period of… Tisha B’Av,” according to the organization’s description. The video, entitled “The Children Are Ready,” shows two children building a sand version of the Temple, prompting their father who is lounging nearby to abandon his newspaper and join them at the beachfront.
The controversy was sparked over the discarded newspaper in the video, which features a picture of President Morsi on the front cover. Some Egyptians saw the video as a slight to Morsi, prompting the President to order the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare a report on the ad, according to the state-run Egyptian news agency MENA.
The controversy follows Israel’s uncertain regard of President Morsi, elected this month following Egypt’s ousting of Hosni Mubarak last year. Israel is anxious over the future of the shaky Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty signed over 30 years ago. “The ad expresses the frustrations with this reality, [because] many Israeli officials believe that Egypt’s revolution was a direct loss for Israel,” said Dr. Omar Ashour of the University of Exeter to Al Arabiya.
In response to the accusations, Rabbi Chaim Richman, Director of the Temple Institute, issued a statement saying that the use of Morsi’s image was “purely coincidental” and called the issues that were raised “baseless.” The Institute explained that Morsi’s image was simply featured in the news during the video’s filming and therefore made it into the shoot with the newspaper. “The entire concept of the Holy Temple is one of peace, prayer and unity, something that Jews worldwide pray for three times daily,” Richman said.
The advertisement can be viewed below.