ORDU / İZMİR / Arzu Çakır Morin – PARIS
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L), Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (C), Selahattin Demirtaş (R).
As Palestine becomes a presidential campaign issue for all three candidates in Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for stressing Israel's "right to self-defense" over its military operation in Gaza.
"The terrorist state Israel
has attacked Gaza once again, hitting innocent children who were playing on a beach," Erdoğan said during address to his supporters at a campaign rally in the Black Sea
province of Ordu on July 19.
"They always curse [Adolf] Hitler, but they [Israel] now even exceed him in barbarism. Some Americans ask why the prime minister [Erdoğan] makes such comparisons with Hitler. What's that to you? You're America, what's Hitler got to do with you?" he added.
The crowd frequently interrupted Erdoğan's speech by chanting "Down with Israel."
In a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
hours before Erdoğan's speech, U.S. President Barack Obama backed Israeli's right to self-defense but warned against an escalation in Gaza.
"What self-defense? One Israeli is killed and over 300 Palestinians ... What kind of defense is that? Israel
has everything, including nuclear bombs, but they say the Palestinians shouldn't be armed. With what will they defend themselves then?" Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan also slammed women's rights activists in Turkey, alleging that "they have the same mentality" as ultra-nationalist Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked, who has been accused of inciting violence after she posted an extract on Facebook from the writings of another Israeli journalist, saying the "mothers of the martyrs" should also be killed, referring to the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers.
"What kind of woman are you?" the Turkish prime minister said, criticizing women's rights organizations in Turkey for not reacting to Shaked's words. "Why are they silent? Because they have the same mentality. They are against motherhood. But for us, motherhood is the highest position for a woman."
Erdoğan also stressed that he did not approve of reactions against Turkey's Jewish community. "Despite all this, I don't approve of the attitude against Jews in Turkey who are our citizens. They are under our guarantee," he said, adding that "the target should be the tyrant, terrorizing government of Israel."
"The West, America
and most Islamic countries keep silent. [Ekmeleddin] İhsanoğlu is also late to react," he added, referring to the presidential candidate jointly nominated by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).İhsanoğlu: The oppressed ones have God with them
For his part, İhsanoğlu restricted himself on July 19 to retweeting a message posted by Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek on July 19, stating: "If the oppressor has [the tools of] oppression, the oppressed ones have God with them. It is easy to victimize people today, but tomorrow God will give judgment."
CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, said voters should support İhsanoğlu's bid and NATO
bases in Turkey should be closed down, speaking during a visit to the western city of İzmir on July 19. "If you really want to solve the Palestine issue, you must shut down the base in Malatya, Kürecik. Can he do it? No," Kılıçdaroğlu claimed, referring to the NATO
radar base in eastern Turkey that was established with the Erdoğan government's approval.
"If Turkey is to have weight in the Middle East, the name of that weight will be Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu," he added.Demirtaş: We stand by the people of Palestine
Meanwhile, Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), also touched on the issue during a campaign stop in Paris.
Addressing supporters, before departing for the German
city of Cologne, Demirtaş condemed Israel
for its Gaza operation and said “we stand with the people of Palestine.”
He also claimed that the Turkish government practiced double standards by limiting its response to Tel Aviv to rhetoric, while still "allowing Israel
to secure big military contracts, a radar base and military bases [in Turkey]."
Demirtaş added that Erdoğan “had no right to say ‘don’t kill’ to Israel” when young people have been killed in Turkey during his tenure.