On February 27th, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared at a UN conference (on West-Islamic dialogue none the less) that Zionism is a crime against humanity, along the lines of anti-Semitism, fascism and islamophobia. Ignoring the obvious irony in this statement, it is just one more hate filled attack against Israel by Turkish politicians. The purpose of this post is not to look at absurd Turkish policies like vetoing Israeli participation in joint NATO exercises for important things such as counter-terrorism, but to highlight some of the rhetoric coming out of Ankara.
Earlier this month, Erdoğan referred to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a “mute devil” specifically for not attacking Israel as a response to an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syrian territory. For the same event, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu suggestively asked “why didn’t Al-Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli jets were flying over his palace and playing with the dignity of his country”. This was followed by the typical Middle Eastern political ploy of accusing one’s enemy of conspiring with the Zionists and then encouraging Syria to attack Israel: “Is there a secret agreement between Assad and Israel? The Assad Regime only abuses. Why don’t you use the same power that you use against defenseless women against Israel.” I guess Davutoğlu was true to his word when he declared, “Turkey would not stay unresponsive to an Israeli attack against any Muslim country”. Maybe this is not so surprising for the person who proclaimed that the Marvi Marvara Flotilla was “like 9/11 for his country”.
In regards to 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, Erdoğan made his position well known by declaring: “For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts”.
In 2010 Erdoğan expressed to the world that he thought, “Israel is the main threat to Middle East peace”.
Erdoğan’s most famous moment regarding Israel likely came in 2009 at the World Economic Forum in Davos when in a heated exchange with President Shimon Peres, Erdoğan responded by saying “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill” before angrily walking off of the stage. This was shortly followed by Erdoğan describing Palestine as an open-air prison.
In regards to operation Cast Lead in 2009, Erdoğan stated, “Israel should be barred from the United Nations”. In the same year, he argued that Israel had committed greater crimes against Palestinians than those committed by Omar Al-Bashir, President of Sudan, who is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of his own civilians. This was followed by Erdoğan saying that he rather speak with Omar Al-Bashir than Netanyahu because according to Erdoğan “it is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide”.
In 2002, Erdoğan issued the following statement in a campaign speech “Sharon is unleashing state terrorism upon Palestine. Sharon must be prosecuted just like Milosevic was in The Hague.”
In 1997 while mayor of Istanbul, Erdoğan blended his anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism when he said, “The Jews started to oppress the Muslims of Palestine in the name of political Judaism which is called Zionism. Today the image of the Jew is no different from that of the Nazis.”
In 1993 when giving a political speech while a member of the banned Islamic party, Refah Partisi, Erdoğan shouted, ” America doesn’t like my leader, the West doesn’t like him either, I have seen that the Jew does not like him either. There is nothing more meaningful than the declaration of your enemy”
There are other anti-Semitic remarks attributed to Erdoğan such as “worlds media is under control of Israel” and “wherever Jews settle, they make money. They are not property owners, as being tenants suits them best.” However, there are only Turkish sources for these statements so I cannot attest to their validity.