Erdogan, the President of Turkey, asserted that he views all religions as equal and denied that his criticism of Israel holds any anti-Semitic connotations during his visit to Germany. He engaged in talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which were overshadowed by the civilian casualties resulting from Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
His disapproval of Israel’s actions in the war had drawn criticism in Germany. The conflict was initiated by unprecedented attacks by Hamas in October, resulting in approximately 1,200 deaths, mostly civilians, and 239 people being taken hostage according to Israel. Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza has risen to 11,500, including a majority of civilians and thousands of children, as reported by Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
During the joint media appearance with Scholz, Erdogan intensified his censure of Israel by contending that “shooting hospitals or killing children does not exist in the Torah”. He also defended himself against accusations of anti-Semitism, asserting his stance against discrimination based on religion in the region and proclaiming himself as a leader at the forefront of this fight.
However, Erdogan also hinted at Germany’s limited freedom to express opinions on the Israel-Hamas conflict due to its historical responsibility concerning the Holocaust. He emphasized that Turkey’s lack of allegiance to Israel allowed him to speak openly, suggesting that Germany carried a “psychological debt” in this regard.