US condemns Erdoğan comments as antisemitic
The State Department is condemning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for remarks it says are antisemitic attacks against the Jewish people amid Israel’s ongoing military conflict with Hamas.
“The United States strongly condemns President Erdoğan’s recent anti-Semitic comments regarding the Jewish people and finds them reprehensible,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Tuesday.
Price continued that the U.S. urges Erdoğan and other Turkish leaders to “refrain from incendiary remarks” that would incite violence and called for Ankara to work with Washington to “end the conflict.”
“Anti-Semitic language has no place anywhere,” Price continued. “The United States is deeply committed to combatting anti-Semitism in all of its forms. We take seriously the violence that often accompanies anti-Semitism and the dangerous lies that undergird it. We must always counter lies with facts and answer crimes of hate with justice.”
Erdoğan, whose political strength comes from an Islamist base, accused Israel of “terrorism” against the Palestinians and has said recently that “it is in their nature,” Agence France-Presse reported.
“They are murderers, to the point that they kill children who are five or six years old. They only are satisfied by sucking their blood,” the Turkish president continued, AFP reported, referencing the antisemitic canard of blood libel.
Turkey and Israel maintain diplomatic ties, but their relations are extremely fraught over Erdoğan’s criticism of the Jewish state, backing of Hamas and provocations in the eastern Mediterranean sea.
Erdoğan also reportedly criticized President Biden as having “bloody hands” for his support of Israel.
Israel is continuing a military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to degrade its missile and military capabilities after the group, which the U.S. has classified as a terror organization, began launching rockets into Israel beginning on May 10. Tensions had been rising for weeks prior over Israeli police action at Al Aqsa Mosque and a potential eviction order in an East Jerusalem neighborhood.
Biden has dispatched officials to lead “quiet, intensive” diplomacy behind the scenes to end the hostilities, but has come under criticism for not more publicly calling for an immediate cease-fire amid mounting Palestinian civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.
Omer Celik, the spokesperson for Erdoğan’s AK Party, rejected U.S. criticism in a lengthy statement on Twitter, calling charges of antisemitism against the Turkish president a “lie.”
ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı’nın Sn Cumhurbaşkanımızı hedef almasını şiddetle kınıyoruz. Cumhurbaşkanımızı anti-semitizmle suçlamak mantıksız ve doğru olmayan bir yaklaşımdır. Bu Cumhurbaşkanımız hakkında söylenmiş bir yalandır.
— Ömer Çelik (@omerrcelik) May 19, 2021
Biden during his presidential campaign commented that he would take a stronger hand against NATO ally Turkey but has sought to maintain relations while in office.
The president called Erdoğan ahead of his decision to recognize the Armenian genocide in April, a move that Turkey rejects.