WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s likening of Zionism to anti-Semitism and fascism was "objectionable."
"We not only disagree with it," Kerry said Friday at a news appearance in Ankara in an appearance with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, The New York Times reported. "We found it objectionable."
Speaking Wednesday in Vienna at a United Nations summit for tolerance, Erdogan had said, “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity."
At the news conference with Kerry, Davutoglu was unapologetic, blaming Israel for the deterioration in Turkey-Israel ties because of its policies toward the Palestinians and because of its fatal 2010 raid on a Turkish aid ship attempting to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
In background remarks, a top State Department official was tougher than Kerry, telling the Times that Erdogan’s comments were "offensive" and "corrosive."
Turkey and Israel are top U.S. allies in the region, and the Obama administration has worked hard to reconcile them, particularly as tensions with Iran accelerate.