US Jewish group demands PM Erdoğan return award

US Jewish group demands PM Erdoğan return award

US Jewish group demands PM Erdoğan return award

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on July 22, 2014, ahead of August 10 presidential elections. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

A prominent Jewish organization in the United States has asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to return a courage award he received in 2004, following his response to the recent Gaza operations.

“In 2004, the American Jewish Congress presented its prestigious Profile of Courage award to you as an individual and as a global leader for your stances on fighting terrorism, working to secure a peaceful solution for Israelis and Palestinians, rejecting fundamentalism and being steadfast in your commitment to protect the Jewish citizens of Turkey,” American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen said in a July 23 letter sent to Erdoğan. 

“And now, we want it back,” Rosen added.

The letter listed a number of recent remarks by Erdoğan concerning the latest Gaza crisis, as well as the recent protests against Israeli diplomatic missions in Turkey.

“A decade after we gave you our award, you have become arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world—spewing dangerous rhetoric for political gain and inciting the Turkish population to violence against the Jewish people,” Rosen added in the letter. “Your current positions, as reported in the media, are abhorrent and your attacks on Jews call into question everything we honored you for.”

The letter comes days after the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party called on Erdoğan to return the award given by American Jewish Congress.

“Be a man of your word for once: Take it off from your neck and return it!” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), stated on July 17.

Responding to a journalist’s question on the matter on July 20, Erdoğan stressed that the award was given to him “in the early days” of his tenure as prime minister. 

“Our relations with Israel were not like today, at the time ... Did we accept those medals as bribery and become silent? I have the strongest voice against the massacres in Gaza today,” Erdoğan said, adding that the Mavi Marmara incident and Gaza wars had soured bilateral relations.