TEL AVIV — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan screened a video at a campaign rally that falsely links Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, to the deadly shooting massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand in which 50 people were murdered at two mosques.
The Turkish leader followed the video screening with comments further attempting to tie the younger Netanyahu to the deadly rampage.
Erdogan reportedly screened videos at multiple campaign rallies in recent days showing the livestream of the assault on Muslim houses of worship at the same time social media giants have been working to remove the footage of the mosque rampage from their platforms. Municipal elections are being held in Turkey on March 31, and Erdogan was clearly using the footage to gin up support.
At televised rallies held in Istanbul and Tekirdag, Erdogan played the footage, which included a montage of the shooting mixed with snippets from the manifesto in which suspected attacker Brenton Tarrant ranted about Turkey.
“We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city,” Tarrant wrote, referring to Istanbul and claiming the city will be “rightfully Christian-owned once more.”
“Together with all Muslims, our country, our nation and myself are targeted,” Erdogan claimed, ignoring that Tarrant ranted about scores of other issues in his lengthy and often disjointed manifesto.
“What does it say?” asked Erdogan at the rally. “That we shouldn’t go west of the Bosporus, meaning Europe. Otherwise, he would come to Istanbul, kill us all, drives us out of our land.”
Missing from most news media coverage about Erdogan’s controversial use of the New Zealand attack footage at campaign rallies is that in at least one event the Turkish strongman screened a version of the video that first zeroes in on a tweet from Yair Netanyahu about Istanbul while serious music is playing in the background.
#Turkey‘s president #Erdogan played horrible footage of #ChristchurchMosqueAttack outdoors all day long in public rallies from big screens, later moved to indoor convention hall to play it again during his 5th speech on Saturday. All televised live in dozen TV outlets nationwide. pic.twitter.com/a5T8OUUOoH
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) March 16, 2019
“I will remind him that Istanbul is actually a city called Constantinople! The capital of the Byzantine empire and center of orthodox Christianity for more then [sic] a thousand years before Turkish occupation!” the younger Netanyahu wrote in the tweet.
And I will remind him that Istanbul is actually a city called Constantinople! The capital of the Byzantine empire and center of orthodox Christianity for more then a thousand years before Turkish occupation! https://t.co/LIpPx8xqYX
— Yair Netanyahu (@YairNetanyahu) March 13, 2019
The video then jumps to footage from the livestream of one of the mosque attacks in a clear attempt to falsely link Yair Netanyahu to the massacre.
In today's speech, Turkish president #Erdogan says both #Israel Prime Minister @netanyahu's son and the killer of #ChristchurchAttack have the same thinking, are fed from the same source and vows to write a new Turkish history against those challenge Muslims and Turks. pic.twitter.com/UMbpf8bZjm
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) March 18, 2019
In actuality, Netanyahu’s March 13 tweet had nothing to do with the Christchurch mosque shootings and Erdogan’s connecting the two may constitute incitement to violence against the Israeli leader’s son by the president of a NATO-member country.
Yair Netanyahu made the remarks about Istanbul in response to a political spat between Erdogan and his father after Erdogan smeared the Israeli prime minister as a racist for stating, factually, that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.
The elder Netanyahu responded that the Turkish leader is a “dictator” and “a joke.”
Erdogan replied by slandering the Israeli leader even further, this time calling Netanyahu a “thief” and “tyrant” who “massacred” Palestinian children.
That’s when Yair Netanyahu chimed in with his remarks about Istanbul.
Besides screening the video, Erdogan also made comments attempting to connect Netanyahu’s son to the New Zealand shootings.
“Watch out, the statements of the son of the person who is the leader of Israel and those of the New Zealand terrorist are the same. They are fed by the same source,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Turkey’s ATV News at an event in the city of Çanakkale.
Erdogan’s use of attack video footage as a political prop has drawn sharp rebuke from New Zealand, with the country’s foreign minister, Winston Peters, warning the continued dissemination of the video could place New Zealand citizens in danger.
Peters told reporters that the message he gave to Turkish officials was “that anything of that nature that misrepresents this country — given that this was a non-New Zealand citizen — imperils the future and safety of the New Zealand people and our people abroad, and it’s totally unfair.”
Peters said that he raised the issue with Turkish officials visiting New Zealand as part of an official delegation.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.