Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan AFP/File

MK Avigdor Lieberman, Head of the Yisrael Beytenu faction in Likud, has hit back at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's latest comments on Israel, compating him to Nazi propaganda minister Josef Goebbels.

"Anyone who heard Erdogan's hate filled rhetoric and statements of incitement understands beyond any doubt that this is a person who continues in the footsteps of Goebbels. His libels are like those of the Dreyfus trial and the Elders of Zion," said Lieberman, who heads the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.

"Today," Lieberman said, "I urge all those who attacked me and Yisrael Beytenu for our resolute objection to apologizing before the Turks for the Marmara events, to reach conclusions and do some soul searching."

Lieberman was referring to his opposition to Israel's decision to "apologize" for the 2019 killing in self-defense of 9 Islamist extremists on board a flotilla. Soldiers who boarded were attacked with knives, swords and blunt objects, eventually responding with live fire after a number of their comrades were seriously injured.

"What do they say about Egypt: democracy is not the ballot box. Who is behind this? It's Israel," Erdogan told a meeting of his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP).

"We have the evidence,” he said, citing comments made in 2011 during an open session between current Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Bernard-Henri Levy, a French-Jewish philosopher and author, in which he said Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood would not be able to remain in power even if it won elections.

This is not the first time the Islamist PM of Turkey - whose AKP party is ideologically aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood - has entertained anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Last month, in reference to both the upheaval in Egypt and anti-government protests in his own country, Erdogan stated cryptically that:

“The origin of the incidents in both countries is the same. I will declare what that origin is when the time comes. It is saved in our memory cards."

The previous month he claimed that “those against whom we said ‘one minute’ are now delighted,” at the unrest in Turkey. Erdogan was referencing his reaction to Israeli President Shimon Peres during the 2009 Davos Forum, in which he uttered "one minute" before storming off stage. That incident preceded a serious diplomatic crisis between the two countries, as Edogan's Islamist government sided with Hamas during Israel's Operation Cast Lead counter-terrorism operation.

Erdogan added that "even if not in such a manner, we had foreseen these events as a series of conspiracies three months ago. We had received some intelligence reports."

But Erdogan and his associates have made far more overtly anti-Semitic statements as well.

Erdogan's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay previously claimed that the “Jewish Diaspora” was behind the "Gezi Square" protests in Turkey.

In 1998, the Jewish Policy Research reported that Erdogan, who was serving as mayor of Istanbul at the time, stated that: “the Jews have begun to crush the Muslims in Palestine, in the name of Zionism. Today, the image of the Jews is no different than that of the Nazis.” 

Apart from anti-Semitism, Erdogan - the leader of a NATO-member state and a man US President Obama has described as one of the few leaders with whom he has developed "bonds of trust" - has also made overtly racist remarks about black people.

In June, Commentator Magazine reported Erdogan's criticism of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the center-left and secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP).

Using an offensive term for black people ("Zenci") Erdogan said:

“Kılıçdaroğlu is striving every bit he can to raise himself from the level of a black person to the level of a white man.”