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POLITICS > Prime Minister Erdoğan ‘glad’ to return award given by American Jewish Congress

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Turkey’s ambassador to Washington has written a letter to the American Jewish Congress after the organization asked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to return an award he was given in 2004, saying the leader would be “glad” to return the honor.

“In view of the foregoing as well as the regrettable stance adopted by the present leadership of the American Jewish Congress vis-à-vis the recent attacks on the innocent civilians in Gaza, Prime Minister Erdoğan will be glad to return the award given back in 2004,” said the letter from Ambassador Serdar Kılıç.

The president of the American Jewish Congress, Jack Rosen, penned an open letter to Erdoğan on July 24, asking him to return the award it gave him in 2004 and accusing the Turkish leader of “dangerous rhetoric” and “inciting violence against the Jewish people.”

“Your request for the return of the aforementioned award actually constitutes an unfortunate testimony to the unsusceptible stance adopted by the present leadership of the American Jewish Congress regarding the Israeli government’s ongoing policies of occupation and atrocity,” said Kılıç’s letter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also commented on Erdoğan’s words and said his comparison of Israel’s offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza to the Nazis was “anti-Semitic in tone.”

The letter said Erdoğan’s stance on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through peaceful means, as well as focus on ensuring the safety and well-being of the Jewish community in Turkey, remained as strong as ever.

“However, [Erdoğan] should not be expected to turn a blind eye to the policies of occupation, blockade and destruction that the Israeli government has been implementing against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The indiscriminate killing of more than 1,000 innocent civilians, including women and children, and the bombing of hospitals and U.N. schools during the recent attacks on Gaza constitute a grave violation of not only international law, but also the most fundamental human values,” the letter said.

“Attempts to depict Prime Minister Erdoğan’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. It should be noted in this respect that Prime Minister Erdoğan has publicly declared to the entire world that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity,” the letter added.

Kılıç called on the organization to publicly condemn the “Israeli government’s policies that have caused public outrage around the world and led to protests by hundreds of thousands of people, including numerous members of Jewish communities.”

July/29/2014

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