Anti-Israel protesters burn an Israeli flag in Turkey on July 17, 2014. Photo: Algemeiner.
A Turkish Ambassador on Tuesday responded angrily to a letter from four members of the U.S. Congress who wrote to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to object to his recent “historically inaccurate and provocative” statements about Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, and said his “inflammatory rhetoric” could negatively impact their work to strengthen the U.S.-Turkey relationship.
The original letter, seen by The Algemeiner, was sent last week by the co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans, the U.S. Congressional Representatives were Steve Cohen, Gerald Connolly, Virginia Foxx and Ed Whitfield.
They said: “It has come to our attention that remarks you have recently made have been widely viewed as anti-Semitic and are most definitely anti-Israel. Your remarks, already reviled as ‘offensive and wrong’ by the U.S. State Department, make it increasingly difficult to communicate in a positive way about Turkey when interacting with our colleagues.”
They called out his recent statement, “You can see that what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, has surpassed what Hitler did to them,” as being “historically inaccurate and provocative.”
“Many countries around the world are focused on working towards peace in the Middle East, and at one time Turkey was considered among them,” they said. “Your recent comments, however, do nothing to end violence but rather could serve to instigate further hatred.”
“We remain strong supporters of robust U.S.-Turkey relations and hope that you will consider the impact that such inflammatory rhetoric has on our relationship,” they said.
The Turkish Ambassador who responded in a two-page letter, also seen by The Algemeiner, was Volkan Bozkir, Chairman of the Turkey-USA Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Caucus and the Foreign Affairs Committee. He denied the charges of anti-Semitism and argued that Erdoğan’s anti-Israel stance was separate and based on the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza.
Bozkir wrote: “The assertion in your letter that some remarks of our Prime Minister are ‘anti-Israel’ and ‘can be viewed as anti-Semitic’ is completely baseless,” and said Erdoğan “has publicly denounced anti-Semitism as a crime against humanity.”
“Your characterization of the legitimate criticisms leveled by our Prime Minster at the Israeli government’s policies of terror and destruction as anti-Semitism constitutes a distortion of facts and a cover-up of Israel’s violation of law and, possibly, its war crimes,” he argued.
“Obviously, it is not a coincidence that anti-Semitic incidents increase during times when Israeli governments attack the Palestinian people. Each Israeli attack undermines the peace and tranquility of Jews living all around the world and turns them into targets of hate speech.”
On Monday, Jewish human rights group The Simon Wiesenthal Center said Erdoğan’s recent “anti-Semitic diatribe” was “unmatched since Hitler and Goebbels.”
Erdoğan told thousands at a rally, “They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won’t grow up; they kill men so they can’t defend their country … They will drown in the blood they shed…”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s directors said, “These lines …read more
Source: The Algemeiner