Women wave flags outside the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish social media users have resorted to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories this week, calling a prominent pro-government media personality a “Jewish stooge” for publicly criticized the ruling AK Party during a television appearance last Thursday.
According to a report in Today’s Zaman, Yeni Safak columnist Yusuf Kaplan came under fire after panning Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy as incompatible with regional realities, leading users on social media to call for his death, accuse him of killing another pro-government journalist and of collusion with the Jews.
In a social media posting of his own, Kaplan accused his critics of “talking nonsense,” stating that while he was “accused of being a Jewish stooge and a British spy,” such statements are merely “a baseless smear campaign.”
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Kaplan has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, having previously written that Jews “rule the Western universities and world media” and that their “paranoia can reach barbaric, cruel and inhuman dimensions.
“Jewish desire to dominate everything in the Western countries, and the way they easily and arrogantly exploit organizations and individuals to serve Jewish interests, may end up causing a short circuit within the democratic institutions of the West,” he wrote.
“Their nosy interference with everything, and their actions beyond the reach of their size, have already started to draw serious reactions in the Western countries. Because the Jewish paranoia is blown up to extreme, forced and artificial dimensions, it can explode any day and take care of them and cost them dearly.”
A 2015 study by the Hrant Dink Foundation found that anti-Semitism was the most common racial or religious prejudice in the Turkish media, with Jews and Armenians the subjects of just over half of the recorded incidents in a media landscape filled with “biased and discriminatory language use.”
Sixty-nine percent of Turks harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, according to a 2014 Anti-Defamation League poll.
While in recent weeks President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed an interest in renewing ties that ruptured over Israel’s 2009 war with Hamas and a deadly Israeli raid in 2010 on a Turkish protest ship attempting to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the country’s leadership is still dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism.
During Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza, Erdogan sparked outrage with his demand that Turkish Jewry “release a statement against the Israeli government.”
Erdogan’s demand for Turkish Jews to denounce Israel, as well as his comments comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and accusing it of perpetrating a genocide against the Palestinians, serve as a veiled threat against their community, then- ADL national director Abraham Foxman said in 2014.
More recently, however, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein met with Erdogan and representatives of the Turkish-Jewish community, telling The Jerusalem Post that the small community feels “safe and secure.”