Erdogan's remarks on Zionism / 'No Prizes for Erdogan'
'Netanyahu blasts Erdogan for ‘dark and slanderous’ remarks on Zionism'
The Turkish prime minister on Wednesday described Zionism as a ‘crime against humanity’ on par with anti-Semitism and fascism...
February 28, 2013
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comparison of Zionism to Nazism, calling it a “dark and slanderous remark, the likes of which we thought had passed from the world.”
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement regarding Erdogan’s “hollow” remarks as well, charging that they “stem from ignorance.”
Erdogan on Wednesday described Zionism as a “crime against humanity” on par with anti-Semitism and fascism.
Speaking in Vienna at a United Nations event devoted to dialogue between the West and Islam, Erdogan decried rising racism in Europe and the fact that many Muslims “who live in countries other than their own” often face harsh discrimination.
“We should be striving to better understand the culture and beliefs of others, but instead we see that people act based on prejudice and exclude others and despise them,” Erdogan said, according to a simultaneous translation provided by the UN. “And that is why it is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.”
The Turkish leader’s comments, made at the official opening of the fifth UN Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum, drew harsh criticism from UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog group monitoring anti-Israel bias and human rights abuses at the organization.
“Erdogan’s misuse of this global podium to incite hatred, and his resort to Ahmadinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world, will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel,” UN Watch said in a statement.
Erdogan was also criticized by the Anti-Defamation League and B’nai B’rith International.
“We are appalled and horrified by Mr. Erdogan’s linkage of Zionism and anti-Semitism at a conference devoted, ironically enough, to improving understanding of other cultures,” said the ADL’s national director Abraham Foxman. B’nai B’rith strongly condemned “Erdogan’s effort to revive inflammatory language, by equating Zionism with racism.”
'No Prizes for Erdogan'
July 27, 2011,
Erdogan reacted to the Mavi Marmara incident with enraged indignation. He demanded that Israel apologize for its commandos' actions and pay compensation to the families of the dead. He also demanded an international inquiry into Israel's actions.
Honor is probably not Erdogan's main rationale for pursing his demand for an Israeli apology. Since he was reelected to serve a third term as prime minister last month Erdogan has been openly seeking to establish a neo-Ottoman Turkish hegemonic position in the Arab world.
To this end he has been actively interfering in the popular revolt against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The IHH has been hosting Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey. Erdogan's clear aim is to replace Iran as Syria's overlord in a post-Assad Syria.
An Israeli apology would serve as proof that his double game of remaining a NATO member and carrying out aggression against Israel is the winning formula. If Israel apologizes for defending itself against Turkish aggression, Erdogan will have succeeded where the Arabs have failed.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and senior IDF officers reportedly argue in favor of an apology, claiming the strategic alliance with Turkey is so important that Israel must be willing to swallow its pride in order to rebuild it. This argument has apparently won over Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor. It has also caused Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to temper his honor-based rejection of the Turkish demand.
The problem with this argument is that it fails to take address Erdogan's second, and more strategically significant motivation of using Israeli humiliation to strengthen his image as a pan-Islamic leader.
Given the true stakes involved, Israel must stick to its guns and say no apology, no compensation, and no political prize for Erdogan.
Originally published in The Jewish Press.