Erdoğan says antisemitism is a crime, seeks stronger ties with Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, known for his harsh criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, said anti-Semitism was a crime against humanity.

"Just as we see Islamophobia as a crime against humanity, we also see anti-Semitism as a crime against humanity," Erdoğan said on Wednesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. He spoke during a meeting with members of the Jewish community in Turkey and the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States (ARIS) in the capital Ankara.

Erdoğan was among the loudest opponents of an Israeli police raid in May at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site, and its bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Erdoğan reiterated his accusations that Israel was “a cruel terrorist state”, urging the Muslim world and international community to take rapid action to stop Israeli aggression in Palestine.

"I do not accept any approach that marginalises people because of their faith or ethnic origin," Erdoğan said. He called for solidarity in the fight against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, especially in Western countries.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated markedly since Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish citizens trying to enter Gaza aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship in 2010. Turkey’s support for Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by Israel and the United States, is also among a string of issues that are contributing to ongoing political tensions, despite efforts this year for a thaw.

Turkey has provided funds and/or citizenship to top Hamas officials, prompting Israeli rebukes.

Turkish lands have been a haven of peace for Jews persecuted in different parts of the world throughout history, Erdoğan said. Inhuman ideas such as racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance to other religions would not be allowed to gain ground in Turkey, he said.

Erdoğan praised the contributions of Jewish citizens to the development, strengthening and achievement of the country's goals over past centuries, Anadolu said.

"Turkey's greatest desire is a Middle East where societies from different religions, languages and ethnicities live together in peace," he said.

On Turkish-Israeli relations, Erdoğan said bilateral ties in the economy, trade and tourism were progressing despite differences in opinion over the Palestinian issue.

"A sincere and constructive attitude from Israel in the context of peace efforts will undoubtedly contribute to the normalisation process. Turkish-Israeli relations are vital for the stability and security of our region," Erdoğan said.

"The steps to be taken on the Palestinian issue, especially in Jerusalem, will contribute to the security and stability of not only the Palestinians but also Israel. In this regard, I attach great importance to our renewed dialogue with both Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett."


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