An anti-Semitic remark or a compliment? Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on students in his country to learn from the Jews how to make money through scientific achievements and wise real estate investments.
In a speech delivered during a ceremony opening the new academic school year at the Yildiz Technical University, Erdogan spoke about his close friend, late Jewish businessman Üzeyir Garih, who was stabbed to death in 2001.
"Garih told me that the Jews were oppressed throughout history, and therefore decided to nurture good scientists and know how to handle money well," Erdogan said. "The Jewish people have had many important achievements in science. They have managed to make a lot of money with these inventions."
Erdogan added that during his term as Istanbul's mayor, he "closely examined" the Jewish people. And these are the conclusions of the anthropologist research he conducted: "Most Jews don't buy property, but rent apartments in the best places in the city. This is because they believe the money disappears if you buy the property. We, on the other hand, waste every penny we have on buying a house."
Erdogan is a harsh critic of the State of Israel, and during the Israeli operation in Gaza he even suggested expelling the Jewish state from the United Nations. But he has stressed repeatedly that he is not an anti-Semite and that many of his friends are Jews.
"As a person, I have always declared that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity. As prime minister, I have acted against anti-Semitism. My anger is at the current Israeli government, which has not acted decently towards us," he said.