Ankara reacts to call from US Congress on zionism

Ankara reacts to call from US Congress on zionism

Ankara reacts to call from US Congress on zionism

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said he found the letter 'unfair'. AA photo

Senior Turkish officials reacted March.14 to the U.S. Congress’ call on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to retract recent comments on Zionism, reiterating that Turkey stands against all kinds of racism and anti-Semitism.

Members of Congress and senators had penned a letter directed at Erdoğan, calling on him to retract his remarks that defined Zionism as a “crime against humanity” on a par with anti-Semitism, fascism and Islamophobia.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said March.14 that Erdoğan had made sharper statements against anti-Semitism than any world leader and that Turkey was against all kinds of racism. He did not elaborate on whether Erdoğan would accede to the call or not but added that Turkey was against Israel’s expansionist policies.

Turkey has a historical record that requires no explanation, the minister said, adding that Turkey had sheltered Jewish people for the last 600 years and would open its doors to any community in distress.

Davutoğlu also said his visit to Diyarbakır on March 15 was planned long before the beginning of the ongoing resolution process. Meeting with civic society representatives in Diyarbakır, his messages will be built on “national unity” and about consolidating the country’s internal peace as Turkey rises as a power, he said.

The letter, written by Congressmen Steve Israel and Doug Lamborn and Senators Mark Kirk and Bill Nelson, was sent to all members in Senate and Congress, inviting them to join in “sending a bipartisan, bicameral letter” to Erdoğan to express “grave disappointment” in his words.

While acknowledging the global danger of extremism, the letter said Erdoğan’s comment “apprehends and disparages a noble historical enterprise,” Zionism, which is defined by the deputies as “a non-discriminatory affirmation of Jewish nationhood.”

Different Zionism views

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also waded into the issue, saying he found the letter unfair, Anatolia news agency reported. “We criticized the Israeli government’s attitude, which abuses human rights – like the Mavi Marmara, Gaza or Palestinian issues – and we will continue to criticize, as our premier stated. However, we would never say or act to offend Jewish people’s faith or Israel’s divine values,” he said, adding that those who had reacted against Erdoğan could not have understood Zionism in the sense that Ankara does.

 “We greatly regret the harsh tone adopted by you and senior Turkish officials toward Israel in the recent past,” the letter reads, describing Erdoğan’s remark as “appalling.” The letter ends with members of the U.S. Congress calling on Erdoğan to restore the relationship between the nations and retract his comment.