Erdogan says comments calling Zionism a ‘crime against humanity’ misinterpreted

THE HAGUE (JTA) — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told a Danish newspaper that his recent comments calling Zionism a “crime against humanity” were misinterpreted.

“Everyone should know that my criticism [is about] certain cases, particularly Gaza and the settlements, and directed against Israeli policy,” Erdogan told Politieken via email, ahead of his visit Wednesday to Denmark. “It is quite natural for us to continue to criticize Israel, as long as it has not abandoned its denial of the Palestinian state’s right to exist.

“On the other hand, we have recognized and continue to recognize the Israeli state within the 1967 borders and on the basis of two-state solution.”

Erdogan said his statement last month at a United Nations forum on tolerance in Vienna “openly condemned anti-Semitism” and “it clearly displays my position on this issue.” 

“In this context, I stand behind my remarks in Vienna,” he said.

The remarks triggered condemnations from Israel, the White House, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and European leaders.

Erdogan said in Vienna, “Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become impossible not to see Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.”

Meanwhile, Holland’s main pro-Israel group is organizing a demonstration outside Dutch parliament to protest the “warm reception” to be given to Erdogan during his visit.

The protest rally is scheduled for Thursday as Erdogan is scheduled to arrive in Dutch parliament, and is being organized by CiJO, the youth department of the pro-Israel Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI.

“We are not against warm [trade] relations with Turkey, but do oppose a warm welcome for the Turkish premier, who is responsible for two occupations, limiting free press and major human rights violations,” CiJO wrote in a statement

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans added his voice last week to other Western top diplomats who condemned Erdogan’s statement in Vienna.