September 1, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 973

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan: ‘Antisemitism is a Disease of [the] Mind’

September 1, 2005
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 973

On June 10, 2005, the last day of his four day visit to the US, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was presented by the Anti Defamation League (ADL) with the 'Courage to Care Award', honoring Turkish diplomats for the role they played in saving Jews during World War II. The news of him receiving the award was mentioned in most Turkish newspapers, some of which included short quotes from his acceptance speech. The full text of the speech was not posted, nor mentioned in the official website of the Prime Minister's press office, where most of the speeches he delivers can be found. [1]

The following article includes the excerpts from his remarks at the awards ceremony in New York that were mostly quoted by the Turkish press and read by the majority of Turkish readers:

"Antisemitism is Perversion"

Murat Yetkin, a columnist for the left of center, liberal daily Radikal wrote: [2]

"'Antisemitism is a shameful disease of the mind. It is a perversion. The Holocaust is the worst crime against humanity throughout history. Genocide, discrimination, Islam-phobia, Christian-phobia, ethnic cleansing are all symptoms of the same disease.'

"These words belong to the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan was saying these [things] in a New York ceremony organized by Jewish organizations, despite the fact that there are politicians in [his] AK [Justice and Development] Party, who without any hesitation would accuse anyone [else] that would utter these words, with Zionism. The ceremony was organized by the Anti Defamation League – ADL that Erdogan defined as 'the flagship of this noble effort' to ensure 'a better future for our children.'

"ADL had organized this ceremony in memory of the Turkish diplomat Selahattin Ulkumen, who while in duty [as Consul] in Rhodes had saved 42 Jewish families there, by preventing them to be sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis. ADL's President Abraham Foxman presented the award [a medal] to Prime Minister Erdogan as the highest level representative of Turkey 'founded by the great Ataturk,' that 'is a valuable model for all Muslim countries with its secular regime.' The emphasis was interesting.

"The above words taken from Erdogan's speech received a standing ovation by all the guests present there.

"Barry Jacobs of American Jewish Committee, one of America's most important Jewish lobbies, commented on the speech by saying, 'it is nice to hear these [words] [especially] coming from Erdogan' […]"

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