Daily Israel Report

'Erdogan Uses Denigration of Israel to Walk Islamist Street'

"Erdogan has chosen to use the denigration of Israel to establish his credentials with the Islamist street,” said leading Jewish group.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/28/2013, 11:14 PM

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
Reuters

The Simon Wiesenthal Center decried UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s silence at a UN conclave in Vienna as Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan charged that Zionism is "a crime against humanity," lumping it together with racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“We witness very frequently the alienation of the ‘other’ in various countries instead of efforts to understand the culture and beliefs of the ‘other,’” Erdogan said. “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.”

“Certain politicians’ defamation of a religion or a sect by mass communication tools only makes pre-conceived notions bigger and deepens the gap,” he added.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish International Human Rights organization, responded to the outrageous remarks saying, “Erdogan is exactly the type of bigoted politician he bemoaned in his speech.”

“It has been clear for some time that Prime Minister Erdogan has chosen to walk in the hateful footsteps of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and use the denigration of Israel and the millions of proud Zionists around the world to establish his credentials with the Islamist street,” Cooper said. “His anti-Semitic bombast is degrading 500 years of relations with the Jewish people and putting Turkey's Jewish community at risk of attack from extremists."

"Frankly however, we are deeply disappointed that the UN Secretary General, the world's leading diplomat sat through the attack in silence. We note that the US, UK, Canada and Australia declined to attend in the first place, but that both Germany and France were in attendance. We urge the leaders of those two countries along with all NATO members to publicly denounce this hate-mongering," he added.

"With the upsurge of anti-Semitism raging across Europe, such a slander, left unchallenged will only further embolden anti-Semites everywhere," Cooper concluded.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanayahu responded Thursday, calling Erdogan’s remarks “sinister and mendacious.”

"This is a dark and libelous statement the likes of which we thought had disappeared from the world," the prime minister said.