Donald Trump's "friend of mine," Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, blames Jews for things

Trump has praised Turkey's leader. Well, here he is, saying Jews are behind the Kurdish independence movement

By Matthew Rozsa

Published October 11, 2017 9:30AM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Recep Tayyip Erdogan   (AP/Evan Vucci)
Donald Trump; Recep Tayyip Erdogan (AP/Evan Vucci)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, delivered a speech on Friday in which he attempted to discredit the Kurdish independence movement by claiming it was controlled by Jews and Israel.

"Who is giving you counsel? Only Israel is behind you," Erdogan said of Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani.

He added, "You have taken former Foreign Minister of France your right-hand side and another Jew to your left-hand side, working on a table with them."

In Erdogan's anti-Semitic speech, he focused his ire against a different Western nation — France. The two Jews referenced by Erdogan in his line about Barzani are Bernard-Henri Lévy, a prominent French intellectual, and Bernard Kouchner, who has served in a number of politically powerful positions within the French government.

Lévy denounced Erdogan's comments as anti-Semitic to The Algemeiner, a Jewish American newspaper.

"His anti-Semitism is the crudest, the worst, because it is nourished by the most deplorable conspiracy theories," Lévy said.

Erdogan had also blamed Lévy for the 2013 coup against former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Erdogan's remarks have occurred as America's relationship with Turkey continues to be fraught. Earlier this month, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal was convicted of terrorism charges in absentia and sentenced to 25 months in prison for writing an article in 2015 that shed light on the violent suppression of Kurdish separatists. In May, Erdogan was harshly criticized when his security forces violently charged anti-Erdogan protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence. Last month, Erdogan claimed that President Donald Trump apologized to him for that incident, which Trump's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later denied. But recently, Trump praised Erdogan's leadership in Turkey and described him as a "friend of mine," claiming that Erdogan and himself were "as close as we’ve ever been."

Most recently, Turkey created an international incident with the United States when it arrested a staffer at the American consulate which it claimed was a spy. When the United States responded by suspending the issue of visas to Turkish citizens at U.S. diplomatic missions, Erdogan accused America's ambassador to Turkey of trying to wreck ties among NATO allies.

Erdogan's ire was raised by the fact that, during a referendum on September 25, 92 percent of the voters in Kurdistan voted to become an independent nation, according to Kurdistan24. Less than two weeks later, Erdogan was meeting with Iranian leaders President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to claim that the Kurdistani vote had been manipulated by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

The State Department was contacted by Salon for comment about Erdogan's anti-Semitic speech but did not respond prior to deadline.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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