By DEBORAH DANAN
Erdogan? ‘Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism are crimes against humanity.’ Oom Shmum? ‘We’re keeping shtum’
If it didn’t pose the threat of malediction, I’d say that the following absurdity uttered by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan might just be the most hilarious thing I’ve read this year: “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity.”
So said the Turkish premier in a UN conference in Vienna on Wednesday.
Tellingly, but hardly surprising, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon—who shared the stage with Erdogan—chose to keep shtum. Once again, the UN has proved itself to be the world’s premier forum for champions of hate and hypocrisy. As UN Watch rightly pointed out in the wake of Erdogan’s latest pronouncement, Ban should be reminded that his predecessor, Kofi Annan, repealed the UN’s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution because it was an expression of anti-Semitism. And let’s not forget the Israel hate-fest at the UN-sponsored World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, a decade ago.
But never mind the UN, let’s return for a moment to Erdogan, hypocrite extraordinaire.
Someone should probably let our old pal Erdogan know that lumping Zionism together with anti-Semitism is in and of itself anti-Semitic. And while he’s abroad preaching against hatred, back at home one of his country’s largest papers, The Hurriyet, published its findings that the Jews–no surprises there—are the number one target for hate speech in Turkish media. The report examined all 1000 local and national newspapers published between September and December 2012 and found that out of a total of 21 minority groups, the Jews receive a whopping 25 percent of all hate-speech content. Even more interesting is the fact that Israel is actually listed as a separate target group, so that lays to rest any claims that hatred against the Jews is actually about Israel.
So Erdogan proves himself as a warrior for combating anti-Semitism (and its evil cousin Zionism) yet he can’t even control the media in his own backyard?
It’s worth noting that before Erdogan’s AKP party came to power, anti-Semitism was very much a fringe issue within Turkish society. Way before the Mavi Marmara misadventure, when Erdogan still served as Istanbul’s mayor, he made the following harrowing statement: “Today, the image of the Jews is no different than that of the Nazis.” Prior to his coming to power, the group that took the main brunt of Turkey’s hate speech was the Armenians, now number 2 on Hurriyet’s list of media’s most targeted. Ah, the Armenians, the eternal thorn in Erdogan’s side. The group that have the chutzpah to claim genocide of 1.5 million of its people at the hands of the Ottomans during World War I. No recognition of genocide—let alone anything akin to an apology—and a 16 year blockade of Armenia are all the long-suffering Armenians have gotten in response to their claims against the Turks. Erdogan's rebuke of Israel’s war crimes flies in the face of his country’s Armenian population, not to mention other victims of Turkish tyranny including Greek Cypriots and Kurds.
So who’s going to take Erdogan on and expose him for the bullying humbug that he is? Certainly not Ban Ki Moon and the other insidious officials at the UN. Perhaps US Secretary of State John Kerry might slip him a hushed scolding on his upcoming visit to Turkey?
I, for one, am not holding my breath.