Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chastised Washington for having denounced his claim, made last Tuesday, that Israel was behind the coup that deposed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood- affiliated president, Mohamed Morsi.

“What is it to the White House that it should respond?” Erdogan said on Saturday. “It should not have mentioned it, it should not have reacted like this. As two members of NATO, that one ally shows this kind of approach to the other is not appropriate.”

The White House criticized Erdogan’s claim about Israel’s alleged involvement in the recent events in Egypt the same day he made it.

“We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. “Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong.”

The White House’s reaction, the Turkish prime minister said, showed the “double standard of the world.”

“The White House should not have spoken about this,” he said.

“If there’s somebody to speak on this, it should have been Israel.”

Erdogan’s original statement, forcefully presented as a conspiracy theory involving French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, also triggered criticism of his political fitness to govern Turkey.

“Let’s be blunt: If Erdogan is a model, then he is a model for bigotry,” Michael Rubin, a resident scholar and expert on Turkey at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote on the website of Commentary.

“Turkey has an anti-Semitism problem, and it is personified by its leader.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, a commentator who writes extensively on the Middle East, declared: “It’s time to call Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan what he is: a semi-unhinged bigot.”

To continue with the notion of Erdogan’s questionable mental health, his behavior has apparently spilled over into harming his country’s foreign policy.

“Turkey’s decision to flirt with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, support Islamist rebels in Syria, throw the strategic relation with Israel to the dogs, and increase tensions over Cyprus are all backfiring,” according to Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

On Saturday, after Erdogan responded to the US criticism, Twitter was abuzz.

Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tweeted: “Erdogan is increasingly unhinged. Is this really what Turks – a serious, sober people – want in their leader?” Roger L. Simon, a cofounder of the news and opinion website PJ Media, asked why the Turkish people had voted for this “bozo,” adding: “Besides being a bigot, #Erdogan seems to be a real nitwit.”


Benjamin Weinthal reports on Europe for The Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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