CAIRO -- Nearly three years ago, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood delivered a speech urging Egyptians to "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists. In a television interview months later, the same leader described Zionists as "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs."
That leader, Mohamed Morsi, is now president of Egypt -- and his comments may be coming back to haunt him.
Since beginning his campaign for president, Mr. Morsi has promised to uphold Egypt's treaty with Israel and to seek peace in the region. In recent months, he has begun to forge a personal bond with President Obama around their successful efforts to broker a truce between Israel and Palestinian militants of the Gaza Strip.
But the exposure this month of his virulent comments from 2010, both documented on video, have revealed sharp anti-Semitic and anti-Western sentiments, raising questions about Mr. Morsi's efforts to present himself as a force for moderation and stability. Instead, the disclosures have strengthened the position of those who say Israel's Arab neighbors are unwilling to commit to peace with the Jewish state.
"When the leader of a country has a history of statements demonizing Jews, and he does not do anything to correct it, it makes sense that many people in Israel would conclude that he cannot be trusted as a partner for peace," said Kenneth Jacobson, deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Representatives of Mr. Morsi have declined repeated requests over more than three days for comment on his remarks. One reason may be that the re-emergence of his previous statements has now trapped him in a political bind. While his past comments may be a liability abroad, he faces a political culture at home in which such defamation of Jews is almost standard stump discourse. Any attempt to retract, or even clarify, his slurs would expose him to political attacks by opponents who already accuse him of softness toward the United States and Israel.
Signs asserting Mr. Morsi works for Mr. Obama are already common at street protests. Perhaps "the Muslim Brotherhood is so desperate for U.S. support that it is willing to bend over backwards to humor the Israelis," Emad Gad, a leader of the Social Democratic Party, suggested in a recent column.
Outlining Mr. Morsi's dilemma, the Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef used the president's anti-Semitic remarks to set up a contrast with his more recent collaborations with Washington and Israel, including the brokering of a cease-fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza. Mr. Youssef, whose television program broadcast the video clip about hatred Friday night, juxtaposed Mr. Morsi's 2010 statements denouncing "Zionists" and their Western supporters, including Mr. Obama, with the Egyptian president's more recent declaration that he hoped Egypt and the United States could be "real friends."
"Of course being in an international role has its rules and restrictions," Mr. Youssef said on the program, advising Mr. Morsi and his Islamist allies to retract their inflammatory talk: "Admit everything you said in the past was a joke, or stop bluffing."
As the chief of the Brotherhood's political arm before becoming president, Mr. Morsi was one of the group's most outspoken critics of Zionists and Israel. He sometimes referred to Zionists as "Draculas" or "vampires," using demonizing language historically associated with anti-Semitism. Although he explicitly denigrates Jews in the recently exposed videos, Mr. Morsi and other political and Brotherhood leaders typically restrict their inflammatory comments to the more ambiguous category of "Zionists."
The anti-Semitic statements that have come to light this month both date back to 2010, when anti-Israeli sentiment was running high after a three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza the previous year.
In the video footage first broadcast Friday on Mr. Youssef's television program, Mr. Morsi addressed a rally in his hometown in the Nile Delta to denounce the Israeli blockade of Gaza. "We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews," Mr. Morsi declared. Egyptian children "must feed on hatred; hatred must continue," he said. "The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him."
"The land of Palestine will not be freed except through resistance," he said, praising the militant group Hamas as an extension of the Brotherhood.
"Who is our enemy? The Zionists. Who occupies our land? The Zionists. Who hates us? The Zionists. Who destroys our lands? The Zionists," Mr. Morsi added, lashing out at "America, France and Europe" as "Zionist" supporters.
"And the last of them is that Obama," Mr. Morsi said. He called the American president a liar who promised the Arab world "empty meaningless words."
The other video clip was a television interview from September 2010 unearthed last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute, based in Washington, which tracks anti-Semitic statements in the Arab world.
"These bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs," Mr. Morsi declared, using a slur for Jews that is familiar across the Muslim world. Although he referred repeatedly to "Zionists" and never explicitly to Jews, Mr. Morsi echoed historic anti-Semitic themes: "They have been fanning the flames of civil strife wherever they were throughout their history. They are hostile by nature."
Some analysts said the gap between Mr. Morsi's caustic statements as a Brotherhood leader and his more pragmatic actions as president illustrated the many factors besides ideology that shape political decisions. "What you believe in your heart is not the same as what you do in power," said Shadi Hamid, research director of the Brookings Doha Center. Whatever Mr. Morsi's opinions about Jews, he has left Egypt's foreign policy toward Israel largely unchanged, Mr. Hamid said.
Mr. Morsi's past statements may still raise questions about how he would act in the future if Egypt were not constrained by its financial dependence, relative military weakness and a network of Western alliances. But in contemporary Egyptian politics the gap between his past vitriol and his present comity may serve mainly as a tempting target for his opponents, Mr. Hamid said.
"You are already starting to hear his opponents saying, 'Morsi is too close to the U.S. and doing its bidding in the Middle East,' " he said. "It would be smart to attack him there because he may be vulnerable."
Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting.
Correction: January 15, 2013, Tuesday
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the timing of some of Mr. Morsi's comments. The television interview in which he referred to Zionists as "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs" was made in September of 2010, not early that year.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.