Speaking at a United Nations conference in Vienna, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared, “It is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.”
Let’s put aside the fact that, when they argue for the criminalization of “Islamophobia,” Erdoğan and his fellow travelers seek to ban not discrimination against Muslims, but rather criticism of the more radical outliers of radical Islamism. Hence, pointing out that under Erdoğan, the murder rate of women in Turkey has increased 1,400 percent would be considered a hate crime. Erdoğan makes no secret of his antipathy of free speech: That is why the Turkish media has descended from relative openness to somewhere below Russia, Venezuela, Iraq, Burma, and Zimbabwe in terms of free press.
Zionism is, simply put, a belief that the Jewish people have the right to an independent homeland in what is now Israel. One doesn’t need to like the Israeli government to be a Zionist, nor does Zionism have anything to do with supporting or opposing a two-state solution. (I am a Zionist who supports a two-state solution, for example, and I have little opinion on Israeli politicians or diplomats, as I neither study them nor interact with them). To be anti-Zionist, however, is to believe that Israel should cease to exist, to be eradicated. Declaring Israel and the Israeli people to be illegitimate is, simply put, the same as declaring that they should be expunged. This isn’t like Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait in 1990 and denying Kuwaitis an independent state because Saddam had declared Kuwait an Iraqi province, and therefore Kuwaitis to be Iraqis. He did not question their right to exist like Erdoğan does the Israelis.
Perhaps this explains Erdoğan’s embrace not of Palestinian statehood, but of Hamas—an organization dedicated to the eradication not only of Israel but also of Jews. It is why Erdoğan defended an aid who donated money to an al-Qaeda charity. It is why the new generation of Turkish diplomats who have arisen from religious seminaries, rather than the secular system which Erdoğan has tried to dismantle, have gone so far as to endorse al-Qaeda openly. Anti-Semitism runs deep in Turkey’s government and, increasingly, its diplomatic corps.
What does Erdoğan’s outburst mean for the United States? Given the UN secretary general’s silence in the face of Erdoğan’s attempts to take the United Nations back to its “Zionism is Racism” days, perhaps it’s time for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to question their uncritical embrace of the United Nations. Obama has also listed Erdoğan as one of his top foreign friends. Perhaps the White House would care to explain that endorsement and upon what it is based? Kerry will be in Turkey tomorrow. It will be interesting to see whether he bothers to bring up incitement to genocide with his host. Most shameful, however, is the behavior of the U.S. Congress. As Erdoğan embraces Hamas and spews anti-Semitism, and as Turkish diplomats defend al-Qaeda, where are our congressmen? At the Turkish embassy, enjoying free food and giving the Turkish government a photo-op about which Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, can brag on his twitter account.