Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on Feb. 26. | Adem Altanadem Altan~AFP/Getty Images
Updated: April 6, 2013 6:17AM
It was another venomous blast from a leader in the Middle East calling Zionism a “crime against humanity.” But this time it didn’t come from the Holocaust-denying president of Iran. Nor was it a revelation of anti-Semitism uttered a few years ago by Egypt’s president. This time it came from a figure often presented as the moderate face of Islamism and a foreign leader President Barack Obama calls a friend — Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
“Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become impossible not to see Islamophobia as a crime against humanity,” Erdogan said in a speech last week in Vienna to the U.N. “Alliance of Civilizations.” Erdogan’s barbaric poison obviously passed for civilized discourse to the many U.N. functionaries there since there wasn’t a peep of protest until his speech was reported by the ever-valuable U.N. Watch, the Geneva-based human-rights monitoring group.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Erdogan’s remark “objectionable” and the White House said it was “offensive and wrong.” Since Obama, in a Time magazine interview, described Erdogan as foreign leader who has “trust and confidence” in Obama, it would be nice if the president would personally call out the Turkish prime minister.
This wasn’t the first time Erdogan had equated Zionism with fascism. A non-partisan international relations council, the Gatestone Institute, has catalogued other eruptions of bigotry from Erdogan. He once declared that “the image of the Jews is no different from that of the Nazis.” On another occasion he said that the “world’s media is under the control of Israel.”
Jews aren’t the only villains in Erdogan’s world. According to the New Republic, he once threatened to deport from Turkey 100,000 non-citizen Armenians. A background note: At least 1.5 million Christian Armenians were massacred by Turkey in the 20th century’s opening act of genocide.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Erdogan’s remark as “a dark and false pronouncement the likes of which we thought had passed into history.” But Netanyahu knows better — far from having passed into history, Erdogan’s views are commonplace in the fanatical Islamism that is driving history across much of the Muslim world.
Look no further than another nation described as a U.S. ally but also in the throes of Islamist political ascendancy — Egypt. A top official close to President Mohammed Morsi claims the Holocaust is “an industry that America invented” and that 6 million Jews moved to the United States during World War II. That figure is, of course, the number of Jews murdered in the Nazi genocide. Morsi himself once described Jews as the “descendants of apes and pigs.”
Hand-in-hand with Islamist hatred of Israel and Jews is Islamist resentment and animosity toward America and the West.
The ominous implications of the Islamist upper hand in the revolutions sweeping the Arab world and elsewhere are dawning on Capitol Hill, if not at the White House. According to the Washington Post, an increasing number of members of Congress are growing uncomfortable with current policy of providing Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid, including advanced jets and tanks. “Why are we spending so much money in a part of the world that doesn’t like us?” wonders Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) of the House Ways and Means Committee. Good question. America just sent Patriot anti-missile batteries to protect Turkey from a possible spillover attack from civil-war-stressed Syria.