Turkey's Erdogan 'glad' to return U.S. Jewish group award

A letter released by Erdogan's office called on the U.S. group to condemn the Israeli government's policies

Turkey's Erdogan 'glad' to return U.S. Jewish group award

World Bulletin/News Desk

 Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would be glad to return an award given to him by a Jewish-American association a decade ago, a letter released by his office showed on Tuesday, and it called on the U.S. group to condemn the Israeli government's policies.

The New York-based American Jewish Congress said in a letter to Erdogan last week that he had become the world's "most virulent anti-Israeli leader" and it demanded that he return an award it had given him partly for his efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"Prime Minister Erdogan will be glad to return the award given back in 2004," Turkey's ambassador to Washington Serdar Kilic said in the letter addressed to American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen.

Erdogan's office released a copy of the letter to the media, describing it as Turkey's official response.

"The absence of this award will not prevent Prime Minister Erdogan from resolutely fighting against terrorism, working towards the peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and upholding the safety and well-being of the Jewish community in Turkey," the letter continued.

Rosen's open letter to Erdogan had cited the Turkish leader's recent comments that Israel had "surpassed Hitler in barbarism" through its attacks on Gaza.

There is widespread anger in Turkey at Israel's offensive in Gaza.

"Instead of acting according to the requirements of international law, Israel continues its occupation and destruction policies ... (and) attempts to depict Prime Minister Erdogan's legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government's attacks on civilians as expressions of anti-Semitism is an obvious distortion and an effort to cover up the historical wrongdoings of the Israeli government," the ambassador's letter said.

"We would like to urge you to publicly condemn the Israeli government's policies that have caused public outrage around the world," it added.

The letter, which emphasized that Erdogan is "a leader who has proclaimed to the world that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity", added: "Erdogan has developed a close relationship with the Jewish community in Turkey. Jewish citizens in Turkey and the rest of the world have kept themselves separate from Israel’s policies."

More than 1,100 Gazans, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict. On the Israeli side, 53 soldiers have been killed as well as three civilians.

Israel said earlier this month it was reducing its diplomatic presence in Turkey after protesters pelted its consulate in Istanbul with stones and draped Palestinian flags on the ambassador's residence in Ankara.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Temmuz 2014, 17:25

Muhammed Öylek

Sigmund Derman
Sigmund Derman - 8 yıl Önce

I think it was a mistake for the President of the American Jewish Congress to write such a negative letter and it was petty to ask that the award be returned. It was predictable that such actions would provoke the response that Erdogan gave. I say this even though I support Israel's actions in Gaza and I hope that the American Jewish Congress continues to do so as well. But it would have made more sense to seek dialogue on this issue rather than making a personal attack.