Bernard-Henri Lévy Slams Turkish President Erdogan for Pushing ‘Crudest, Worst’ Antisemitic Campaign in Wake of Kurdish Independence Vote
Leading French-Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy on Monday slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for orchestrating “the crudest, the worst” antisemitic campaign against him over his support for the September 25 independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan — in which 93 percent of voters declared their backing for the creation of a sovereign Kurdish state.
Lévy was responding to a report published last Friday in Güneş — a muckraking Turkish tabloid that is solidly loyal to Erdogan — in which the Turkish president pointed to a photograph of Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani flanked by Bernard Kouchner, who served as a minister in successive French governments, and Lévy, who is arguably the best-known advocate for Kurdish national rights in the West.
“You have the former foreign minister of France (Kouchner) to your right-hand side, and another Jew (Lévy) to your left-hand side, working at a table with them (Barzani and his colleagues),” Erdogan was quoted as saying. Güneş then went on to claim Lévy was a “Mossad agent.”
Lévy told The Algemeiner that Erdogan was “the enemy of the Kurds.”
“His antisemitism is the crudest, the worst, because it is nourished by the most deplorable conspiracy theories,” the philosopher observed.
Erdogan has repeatedly described the Kurdish independence referendum as an Israeli plot to foster a “second Israel” in the Middle East. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have denounced the charge as baseless, while declaring at the same time their political sympathy with Kurdish national aspirations.
The very same conspiracy theory was voiced by Iran’s “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, following a meeting with Erdogan in Tehran on October 5.
“America and Israel benefit from the vote,” Khamenei said. “They want to create a new Israel in the region.”
Frequently given to antisemitic outbursts against both Israel and prominent individual Jews, Erdogan has aimed his opprobrium at Lévy in the recent past. In 2013, following Lévy’s forthright criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Erdogan accused the Frenchman, “who is also Jewish,” of having played a key role in the coup against Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.
“This fixation on me is absolutely grotesque,” Lévy said. “To imagine that one man, alone, could have the power, four years ago, to provoke a coup d’etat, and today inspire or manipulate a referendum is literally ludicrous.”
Lévy expressed his solidarity with the Turkish people, who he said were “subjected to a dictatorship under this paranoid despot.”
“Turkey deserves better,” he said.