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May 19, 2021 11:55 am
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‘This is a Lie’: Turkey Rejects US Condemnation of Erdogan Regime’s ‘Incendiary’ Antisemitic Outbursts

avatar by Ben Cohen

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks to media after attending Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey, Aug. 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Murad Sezer.

Turkish government officials on Wednesday rushed to defend the country’s Islamist president from US criticism of his “incendiary” antisemitic attacks on the State of Israel.

“This is a lie told about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Ömer Çelik — a spokesperson for the ruling AKP Party — said in a statement. “It is unreasonable and incorrect to accuse our president of antisemitism.”

The Turkish response came following Tuesday’s comments by the US State Department criticizing Erdogan for deploying antisemitic language and imagery in his verbal assaults on the Jewish state, which have intensified over the past week during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups.

“We urge President Erdogan and other Turkish leaders to refrain from incendiary remarks, which could incite further violence,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “We call on Turkey to join the United States in working to end the conflict. Antisemitic language has no place anywhere.”

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While Price did not specify which of Erdogan’s comments he was referring to, in recent days the Turkish leader has refashioned the medieval “blood libel” — which falsely accused Jews of using the blood of non-Jewish children for religious rituals — in relation to the State of Israel

“They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old,” Erdogan declared in a speech last week. “They are only satisfied by sucking their blood.”

The Turkish leader has a long record of making antisemitic comments during times of increased regional tension. He often compares Israeli military operations against Hamas with the extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust, accusing European states of supporting Israel solely to assuage their guilt for the crimes of Nazism. When Austria raised the Israeli flag over the Chancellery building in the capital Vienna as a gesture of solidarity last week, Erdogan charged that the Austrian government was “trying to make Muslims pay for the genocide to which it subjected the Jews.”

Erdogan’s communications director summarily rejected the US condemnation of Erdogan’s antisemitic outbursts, taking the opportunity to demean Israel as an “apartheid state” at the same time.

“Enabling an apartheid regime in its repression of innocent people in occupied territories and then turning around and blaming others who call it out is the height of hypocrisy,” Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter. “We categorically reject any attempt to misrepresent our President Erdogan’s words.”

Turkey’s small Jewish community — which has been targeted by far right nationalist and Islamist supporters of Erdogan in the last week — was also pressed into defending the president. “It is unfair and shameful to claim that President Erdogan is anti-Jewish. On the contrary, he has always been constructive, supportive and encouraging towards us,” the community said on its Twitter feed.

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