Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech on Wednesday at the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations forum said:
Unfortunately the modern world has not passed the test when it comes to Syria. In the last two years, we have seen close to 70,000 people lose their lives, and every single day we see innocent children, women, civilians, killed. And the fact that the world has not reacted to this situation seriously injures the sense of justice. In the same way, rising racism in Europe is a serious, problematic area, vis-à-vis the Alliance of Civilizations project.
In addition to indifference vis-à-vis the Muslim countries, we also see harsh, offending, insulting behavior towards Muslims who live in countries other than their own, and this continues to be an unconscionable act that has been ongoing around the world. We should be striving to better understand the beliefs of others but instead we see that people act based on prejudice and exclude others and despise them. And that is why it is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.
Not surprisingly, the only part of that statement that has drawn attention is to equate Zionism with fascism. That’s a claim that never goes down well.
Max Fisher writes:
Does condemning Zionism make you anti-Semitic? Not in Erdogan’s mind, it seems. That’s not a question for me to parse, but it’s worth noting that a lot of people seem to perceive any condemnation of Zionism as a condemnation of, if not all Jews, then certainly the ones living in Israel.
Not a question to parse? Meaning, that’s not territory into which a humble blogger at the Washington Post wants to venture. But let’s be clear, this really isn’t such a perilous issue that it can’t be clarified with a few facts.
Firstly, it might come as news to Fisher and some others, but a significant proportion of Jewish Israelis are not Zionists. Neither of course are the 20% of Israel’s population who are not Jewish.
But what is Zionism? The neatest definition I’ve heard came from an American rabbi at J Street: Zionism means having a country where Jews are “in charge.” (The rabbi describing Zionism this way seemed to think it perfectly reasonable that many Jews would want to live in a country run by Jews.) Liberal Zionists like to characterize this as a form of self-determination — a desire for Jews not to be ruled over by non-Jews. But this skirts around the utterly obvious and inevitable consequence of Jewish rule: that it involves non-Jews be ruled over by Jews. In other words, it is the practice of Jewish supremacy.
Zionists never tire of warning about “demographic threats.” In the simplest terms, the demographic threat would become insurmountable if Jews became a minority in the territory controlled by the state of Israel. Still, the demographic threat looms large even before that point is reached.
What this concern with a demographic threat makes clear is that Zionism is untenable in a state where Jews and non-Jews are treated as equals.
Demography hinges on numbers. How large does the Jewish majority need to be to sustain a Jewish state, and how many of them need to be Zionists?
Does Zionism’s intrinsic refusal to treat human beings as equals, constitute a crime against humanity? I’m not sure because that’s a technical term with a legal application. What should be beyond debate is that Zionism is a form a racism.
Yet Zionism enjoys a unique status: anyone who criticizes it gets swiftly vilified by the Western political and media establishment and few people even have the courage to question its meaning.