An American Jewish organization is demanding that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan return an award it gave him a decade ago, due to his recent remarks on Israel’s military operation in Gaza.
Calling him “arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world,” American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen accused the prime minister of “spewing dangerous rhetoric for political gain and inciting the Turkish population to violence against the Jewish people.”
Erdogan received the American Jewish Congress’ Profile of Courage award in 2004 after making statements affirming his commitment to protect Turkish Jewry, eradicate terrorism and broker a Middle East peace deal.
“We want [the award] back,” Rosen wrote Erdogan on Wednesday, informing him that his statements had not only done “irreparable damage to Jewish-Turkish relations and put innocent people at risk,” but had caused him to forfeit his seat “at the table of legitimate mediators working to end the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.”
Erdogan’s stated views on the conflict are abhorrent, Rosen declared.
Since Israel’s ground forces entered the Gaza strip last Thursday, Erdogan has been among Israel’s harshest critics, calling it a “terror state” and accusing Jerusalem of perpetrating a “systematic genocide” against the Palestinians.
Israeli barbarism, he said, has surpassed that of Hitler.
Yeni Akit, a pro-government newspaper in Istanbul, recently ran an article by journalist Faruk Köse calling on Turkish Jews to issue a communal apology on behalf of Israel.
Meanwhile, attacks on Israel’s embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul prompted Jerusalem to withdraw some of its diplomatic staff.