Turkish Prime Minister claims Israel uses Holocaust as excuse

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Holocaust survivors have reacted furiously to comments by the Turkish Prime Minister suggesting that Israel uses the Holocaust as an excuse to kill Palestinians.

The Israeli Prime Minister also condemned Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his remarks, made during an appearance on Turkish television.

Mr Erdogan said Israelis act "as if they are the victims all the time." He also denied that there were accurate numbers for casualties in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and claimed that "hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were killed" while only 200 Israelis were.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have deteriorated in the past year following the clash on the Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010 and at the beginning of September this year Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador.

Benjamin Netanyahu described what was said as "outrageous charges against Israel that have nothing to do with the facts".

"We don't use the Holocaust," he said. "The Holocaust was the worst crime in history perpetuated against our people."

Elan Steinberg, the vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants demanded that Mr Erdogan apologise to those he "so cavalierly offended".

He said: "Holocaust survivors are indignant at the morally obscene manner in which he has sought to instrumentalise the tragedy of the Holocaust for crass political aims."

Noting that Mr Erdogan visited Yad Vashem in 2005, he added: "We who suffered the brutalities of the Nazi regime are pained by the continued exploitation by politicians who twist our mass tragedy for the narrow self-promotion of their political agenda."

    Last updated: 10:03am, September 27 2011