Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an “antisemitic dictator,” charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, as the war of words that erupted between Ankara and Jerusalem over the weekend hit a fever pitch.
“He has an obsession with Israel,” Netanyahu said of the Turkish leader, who ignited the long-simmering feud between the two leaders, by attacking the Jewish state and its army in a speech he gave on Saturday.
Erdogan “knows what a moral army is and he knows what a genuine democracy is, as opposed to an army that massacres women and children in Kurdish villages and a state, which, to my regret, is becoming more dictatorial day by day,” Netanyahu said.
He spoke in Tel Aviv at an event for Christian IDF soldiers in advance of Christmas.
“We are proud of you; the entire nation is proud of you,” Netanyahu said. “You belong to the most moral army on Earth.”
But he quickly linked his praise of them to his ongoing battle with Erdogan.
“Not everyone shares this view,” he said. “I was just exposed to the daily trolling of the antisemitic dictator Erdogan.”
He quipped sarcastically that his ties with Erdogan have improved.
“Erdogan used to attack me every two hours, and now it is every six hours,” Netanyahu said. He made sure to place all his anti-Erdogan quotes on Twitter.
The two men are famous for their feuding barbs. Earlier this year, Erdogan made waves when he said that the spirit of Adolf Hitler had re-emerged among some Israeli policymakers.
But this latest verbal assault comes as the Trump administration is cozying up to Turkey, including coordinating its withdrawal of US troops from Syria with Erdogan.
Shalom Lipner, of the US-based think tank the Brookings Institute, tweeted: “Israel [is] undoubtedly creeped out with the prospect of Erdogan’s new perch next to Trump’s ear. Expect a Netanyahu charm offensive (a.k.a. more effusive flattery of Trump) to recapture his #TopDog-ship and relegate Erdogan back to the netherworld.”
Turkish insults aimed at Netanyahu and Israel were not limited to Erdogan. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted: “The occupier which kicks people lying on the ground is easily offended: @netanyahu is a cold-blooded killer of modern times, responsible for massacres of thousands of innocent Palestinians, bombing children on beaches.”
Attached to his tweet were photographs, including one that showed a Palestinian man blindfolded in Israeli custody, a bloody shroud-wrapped corpse, a man in a wheelchair protesting at the Gaza fence, and a photo of Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi with her fist raised at IDF soldiers. Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin tweeted, “instead of begging President Erdogan not to speak out the truth, @netanyahu should end the lawless occupation of Palestinian lands and the brutal oppression of Palestinian people. Bashing Erdogan or using Kurds as a political chip will not save him from his domestic troubles.”Yere düşen masumları bile tekmelemekten geri durmayan işgalci çabuk sinirlenmiş. Netanyahu binlerce günahsız Filistinlinin katledilmesinden sorumlu, sahildeki çocukları bombalayan modern zamanların eli kanlı katilidir. Türkiye gerçekleri ortaya çıkarmaktan asla vazgeçmeyecek. pic.twitter.com/5w0vb4HoeN— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) December 23, 2018
Instead of begging President Erdoğan not to speak out the truth, @netanyahu should end the lawless occupation of Palestinian lands and the brutal oppression of Palestinian people. Bashing Erdoğan or using Kurds as a political chip will not save him from his domestic troubles. https://t.co/I6YdwDP2v4— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) December 23, 2018
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) spoke out in defense of Netanyahu tweeting, that “Erdogan’s shameless criticism of PM @Netanyahu and the people of #Israel was hateful and unhinged, even by his admittedly lofty antisemitic standards.”Erdogan on Saturday had publicly stated that Jews in Israel kick people when they lie on the floor, adding that Jews kick not only men, but also women and children.Muslims, Erdogan said, will confront the Jews “if they have the courage to deal with us, and we will teach them a lesson.”Netanyahu had tweeted a response to Erdogan’s statements charging: “Erdogan – the occupier of northern Cyprus, whose army massacres women and children in Kurdish villages, inside and outside Turkey – should not preach to Israel.”Reuters contributed to this report.