Prime Minister Erdogan’s ‘Zionism’ Comments Isolate Him and His Country
SOURCE: AP/Ronald Zak
Speaking recently at the 5th Global Forum of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan grouped Zionism in with anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia as “crimes against humanity.” While Prime Minister Erdogan’s outrageous comments seem intended to isolate Israel, they also threaten to further isolate Turkey at a time when the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, should be seeking to build new partnerships to replace its failed “zero problems with neighbors” strategy.
Prime Minister Erdogan’s comments, delivered in front of a global audience, seemed like an attitude from a bygone era. Casting Zionism together with anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia in this way is not only deeply offensive but also quite historically inaccurate and has the potential to promote or justify violence.
In its broadest definition, modern Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people. Developed in response to centuries of anti-Semitism in Europe, it holds that Jews represent a national group and are thus deserving of self-determination in a state of their own. By declaring Zionism—an essentially political movement—a “crime against humanity,” Prime Minister Erdogan implies that it should meet resistance appropriate to such a grave crime—namely, force.
Islamophobia certainly represents a problem, both in Europe and the United States, and Prime Minister Erdogan is right to deplore it. Having published a major 2011 report on the Islamophobia network here in the United States—which has received considerable coverage in Turkey—we at the Center for American Progress think it important that the term not be misused or devalued through these kinds of inappropriate, inaccurate comparisons.
It is in both Turkey’s and the United States’ interest to heal tensions between Israel and Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan’s incendiary remarks make that more difficult and act against Turkey’s long-term national interest.
Matthew Duss is a Policy Analyst with the National Security team at the Center for American Progress and Director of Middle East Progress at the Center. Michael Werz is a Senior Fellow at the Center.
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:
Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or email@example.com
Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or email@example.com
Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or email@example.com
Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or firstname.lastname@example.org