Istanbul: Calls for a boycott of a prominent Turkish author of Jewish descent over Israel`s assault in Gaza have been denounced by politicians in Turkey as a "hate crime."
Turkey has taken a lead in denouncing the deadly Israeli campaign in Gaza, which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has bluntly termed as a genocide.
But the government insists that the criticism is against Israel`s policies and is not in any way anti-Semitic.
A social media campaign for a boycott of Israeli products sparked a storm of critism on Thursday after there were calls to include works by acclaimed Turkish-Jewish novelist Mario Levi.
Culture Minister Omer Celik described the "provocations" against Levi as "hate crime", while warning Turkish citizens against taking out their anger on the country`s 17,00 strong Jewish community.
"...Provacations against Mario Levi, a brilliant author of Turkish (literature), are completely wrong. They are hate crimes," he wrote on Twitter.
Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek denounced the attacks against Levi as "an eclipse of reason."
Footballer-turned-MP, Hakan Sukur, wrote on Twitter: "If people launch a campaign to boycott a writer like Mario Levi for his beliefs, this is a hate crime to say the least."
The Istanbul-born Levi, 57, has penned more than 10 novels, most notably the 1999 novel "Istanbul was a Fairy Tale".
Levi himself expressed his sorrow over the Palestinian victims of Israel`s military operation in the Gaza Strip as well as his regret over the campaign against him.
"Words are not enough to tell how much the tragic war in Gaza and the death of innocent children is breaking my heart. I can`t belive I have experienced something like this in the country that I love to my bones," Levi said.
The Gaza conflict has so far claimed the lives of more than 740 Palestinians in Gaza, 34 Israelis, mainly soldiers, and a Thai worker.