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.”