Israel says Turkish criticism inappropriate at Holocaust memorial service

Israel says Turkish criticism inappropriate at Holocaust memorial service

ISTANBUL – Reuters
Israel says Turkish criticism inappropriate at Holocaust memorial service

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. AFP Photo

Israel accused Turkey’s parliamentary speaker Jan. 28 of “misusing” a Holocaust commemoration to criticize Israeli policy, the latest exchange in a bitter row between the former allies.

Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çicek late on Jan. 27 addressed members of Turkey’s tiny Jewish community and others at a Holocaust Memorial Day event and said rising anti-Semitism was linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Commemorating the tragedies of the past, particularly the Holocaust, does not mean the killings of more than 2,000 children and women by Israeli security forces would be ignored, Turkey’s Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek said late Jan. 27 at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day held in the Turkish capital of Ankara for the first time.

“In these very days while we commemorate the pains of the past, nobody can ignore the massacring of more than 2,000 children and women during the last Gaza attack. Therefore, I want to express that we should seek a holistic settlement to the problem if we are to find a solution to the problem by looking at the greater picture,” Çiçek said.

Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told Reuters that Çicek “unjustly and harshly criticized [Israel] at a moment that is absolutely inappropriate.”

“Israel expresses its disappointment that a solemn event of an international nature dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust victims was misused in order to criticize Israeli policies,” Nahshon said.

Relations between Israel and Turkey ruptured in 2010, when Israeli soldiers killed nine Turks travelling in a Turkish-led humanitarian aid convoy attempting to break a blockade of Gaza.

Earlier this month Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu likened his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to the Islamist militants who killed 17 people in Paris, saying both had committed crimes against humanity.

The government has said its criticism of Israel is not aimed at Turkish Jews, 17,000 of whom remain in Turkey, descendants of those who fled the Spanish Inquisition a half-millennia ago, but the community says it fears that anti-Semitism in the Turkish press and by political leaders puts it at risk.