Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned U.S. President Donald Trump that “the world will give a very good lesson to the United States” for its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in an impassioned rant on Thursday.
Erdogan’s speech, the latest in a series of incendiary addresses attacking the Trump administration for its Jerusalem decision, preceded a vote at the United Nations to defy the move.
In addition to repeatedly attacking the president, Erdogan recently assembled an “emergency” meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to condemn the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite the presence of Israel’s national government buildings and agencies in the city.
Erdogan—who has permitted Islamic prayers at the historic Hagia Sophia basilica in Istanbul, called the use of birth control by Muslims “treason,” and repeatedly claimed that Muslims arrived in the Americas before Christopher Columbus—has taken on a growing leadership role in the global Islamic community.
In response to President Trump’s warning that he would cut aid to any country condemning Washington’s Jerusalem declaration, Erdogan said, “Mr. Trump, you cannot buy our will. I am calling on the whole world: Do not sell your struggle for democracy for a few dollars. Your stance is important.”
“They call the U.S. the cradle of democracy. The cradle of democracy is seeking to buy a nation’s will with dollars,” he argued. “The U.S. is handing out threats. What is this threat? It is ‘We give out dollars, but there are those who act contrary to our beliefs. We’re taking all of their names.’”
Prior to the vote Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told her colleagues, “The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us.”
“The U.S. will be taking names,” she added.
“I hope that the U.S. will not get the result it expects today and the world will give the U.S. a very good lesson,” he said of the vote against America at the U.N.
Shortly following Trump’s announcement that he would relocate the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Erdogan condemned Israel as a “child-killer state” and accused the United States of sponsoring terrorism.
“With its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has become a partner in the bloodshed,” Erdogan declared in a speech this month. “The statement by U.S. President Donald Trump does not bind us, nor does it bind Jerusalem or the Muslim world.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replied by condemning Erdogan, one of the most prominent human rights violators currently serving as a head of state. “I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from the leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran go around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “That is not the man who is going to lecture us.”
Turkey has imprisoned more journalists than any country in the world, according to the 2017 annual report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Erdogan routinely uses a law against “insulting the president” to imprison anyone critical of his government. Most recently, his prosecutors have demanded a four-year sentence for outspoken critic and New York Knicks player Enes Kanter.
On Thursday afternoon, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the United States and asserting that “any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”
On Wednesday, Trump had echoed what Haley told other U.N. ambassadors. “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump said.