Israel

Past Anti-Semitism Risks Diplomatic Fallout For Turkey PM Erdogan

Turkish officials are evaluating what if any diplomatic damage will result from new evidence of past anti-Semitic remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Samuel Westrop of the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy just published a series of old comments documented by Western and Turkish sources and going back decades:

In November 1998, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research released its annual report on current trends in anti-Semitism… [and] quoted the then-mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in June 1997, at a meeting organized by the municipality to celebrate the city’s conquest by the Ottoman Turks, remarking: “The Jews have begun to crush the Muslims of Palestine, in the name of Zionism,” the mayor said, “Today, the image of the Jews is no different from that of the Nazis.”

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Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak has reported Erdogan commenting that the media does not fully report Israel’s “murder of innocent children” because the “world’s media is under the control of Israel, and this needs to be emphasised.”

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Another Turkish newspaper, Taraf, reported that Erdogan, while attending the opening of a university, stated, “wherever Jews settle, they make money. They are not property owners, as being tenants suits them best. On the other hand, whatever we have or do not have, we will invest in our houses.”

Erdogan has repeatedly denigrated Israeli attempts to repair relations between Turkey and the Jewish state, which have been functionally frozen since Israeli commandos intercepted a ship piloted by the Turkish IHH terror group as it was attempting to break the Jewish state’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine people were killed after the boat’s passengers attacked Israeli commandos. A U.N. investigation subsequently acknowledged that Israel’s blockade was legal.

Foreign policy experts have described the Erdogan government’s ongoing refusal to pursue rapprochement with Jerusalem as “schoolyard behavior,” noting that government officials are “for whatever reason… incapable of rational and level-headed behavior when it comes to Israel.” Should it become plausible that Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party’s orientation toward Israel is grounded at least partially in anti-Semitism, it may become more difficult for Western media outlets and wires to describe the Prime Minister and his party as “moderate” or “mildly” Islamist.

[Photo: Randam / Wiki Commons]