In Incredibly Awkward Joint Presser, Erdogan Says Germany’s Scholz Can’t Criticize Israel Because Of The Holocaust
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continued to be a thorn in Israel’s side, as well as the NATO alliance, given that on Friday he was in Germany and aggressively denounced Israel’s military operation against Hamas and Gaza.
Erdogan made things awkward for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz while the two hosted a joint press conference in Berlin. The Turkish leader not only reiterated his calls for an immediate ceasefire, but went so far as to say that what Israel is doing is against the Jewish religion.
He denounced attacks on children and civilians in hospitals as being contrary to the Jewish holy book. “Shooting hospitals or killing children does not exist in the Torah, you can’t do it,” Erdogan said. He then highlighted the large and growing casualties among Palestinian women, children and elderly, and even mentioned attacks on churches.
“Does Israel target hospitals, houses of worship and churches? Yes, it does. I, as a Muslim, am disturbed by this,” he said, as translated by Turkish media. He then called out Western leaders for failing to condemn such brazen human rights abuses, again with Scholz standing uncomfortably right beside him.
Erdogan further made things awkward by referencing an ultra-sensitive subject for Germans:
Erdogan suggested that Germany was unable to criticize Israel because of the Holocaust.
“I speak freely because we do not owe Israel anything. If we were indebted, we could not talk so freely,” he said. “Those who are indebted cannot talk freely. We did not go through the Holocaust, and we are not in such a situation.”
He also claimed Israel’s actions were against Judaism.
He further held out the possibility that Turkey could mediate peace – which remains highly unlikely given the current soaring tensions in Israel-Turkey relations which recently witnessed the mutual withdrawal of ambassadors and tit-for-tat verbal denunciations.
“As Türkiye, our goal is to facilitate an atmosphere in which Palestinians and Israel peacefully coexist,” he said.
Erdogan has also been harping on Israel’s secretive nuclear arsenal, saying the world must demand that it be officially disclosed, while also vowing to send Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes.
Sad day for Germany. Knowing what Erdogan is capable of saying, I would not have taken this meeting. And yet, the Biden administration is mulling over whether to invite him to the White House. I would caution folks at State, NSC to advise against this. 100% avoidable pic.twitter.com/61H0bJXhNA
— Sinan Ciddi (@SinanCiddi) November 17, 2023
Scholz, however, in the same press conference was unmoved:
In response to a journalist’s question about whether Germany would support legal action against Israel’s ongoing war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza, Scholz said Israel’s “right to self-defense must not be called into question.”
Scholz traveled to Israel to offer Germany’s unconditional and unwavering support after the Oct. 7 attacks.
Erdogan’s commentary sparked immediate controversy among German leaders:
Those and similar comments have appalled politicians across the spectrum in Germany. Scholz has described Erdogan’s accusations against Israel as “absurd.”
“It’s no secret that we have, in parts, very different views on the current conflict,” Scholz said at a brief news conference alongside Erdogan before their talks. But “particularly at difficult moments, we need to speak directly to each other.”
— Zhang Heqing (@zhang_heqing) November 18, 2023
Germany is also among European countries which have a large Muslim and especially Turkish population. Major pro-Palestinian protests have erupted there. One point of rare agreement between Turkey and Germany during Erdogan’s visit was the need for a two state solution.
In the meantime, Erdogan’s Turkey will continue to be a foreign policy outlier in the NATO alliance – and the Turkish president certainly won’t be receiving a state invitation to visit Washington or London anytime soon. And yet, there are reports that the White House has actually been mulling such a visit.
Sat, 11/18/2023 – 15:45