OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comparison of Israel’s offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza to the Nazis was “anti-Semitic in tone,” the Israeli leader said Sunday. “I heard the things the prime minister of Turkey said, words of the utmost gravity,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters. “I told [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry, [these are] anti-Semitic statements – they have an anti-Semitic tone.”
The Islamist-rooted Erdogan accused Israel Saturday of having “surpassed Hitler in barbarism” through its attacks on the Palestinian territory, but warned Turks against taking out their anger on Jews in the NATO-member state.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki Friday branded Erdogan’s comments “offensive and wrong.”
“When there are concerns we have about comments made or actions taken, even when it is a NATO ally, we certainly don’t hesitate to make those concerns known,” she said.
Erdogan said Sunday that he stood by his comments, accusing Israel of using “disproportionate force” and killing Palestinians “mercilessly.”
“How can we ignore this? How can a country like the United States turn a blind eye to this?” he asked. “As a member of the U.N. Security Council, it needs to act fairly.”
“If America still says ‘Israel is using its right to self-defense,’ it is America that needs to engage in self-criticism,” Erdogan told the TGRT news channel.
A staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, Erdogan has stepped up his criticism of Israel’s operation in the besieged Gaza Strip, accusing the Jewish state of carrying out “state terrorism” and “genocide” against Palestinians.
A once-strong partnership between Israel and Turkey, both U.S. allies, has frayed in recent years over Ankara’s anger at the Jewish state’s Gaza policies.