Jewish leaders’ attraction to dictators

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to the upscale Peninsula Hotel to meet with a group of American Jewish leaders. For American Jews, that such a meeting occurred at all is humiliating.

October 7, 2019 22:41
Jewish leaders’ attraction to dictators

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

When he visited New York recently for the UN General Assembly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to the upscale Peninsula Hotel to meet with a group of American Jewish leaders.

For American Jews, that such a meeting occurred at all is humiliating. But that it was held in their name with the Jewish public’s knowledge and acquiescence is infuriating. Considering that none of these Jewish leaders publicly discussed the closed-door meeting, we may never have heard about it had a photo not surfaced on a Turkish news site. And how naïve can those Jewish leaders have been not to understand that Erdogan would release the photo in order to whitewash and legitimize his growing tyranny, and demonstrate that despite his disgusting and repugnant antisemitism, he is still a welcome guest among America’s foremost Jewish organizations.

The photo itself appears harmless until you inspect its bottom-right corner. There, one of the heads of a Jewish organization is seen smiling directly alongside Erdogan, who heads the table. The literal proximity to a brutal dictator is disturbing.

After all, the Jewish leaders met with Erdogan on the same day that, in an address to American Turkish leaders and at the United Nations, he compared Israel’s policies in Gaza to the Nazi’s wholesale slaughter of six million Jews.

Let me repeat. On the very same day that Erdogan trivialized the extermination of six million Jews in the Holocaust and referred to Israel as Nazis, he held a meeting that granted him cover.

As if to maximize the antisemitic output of his short New York stay, Erdogan would use his UN speech that day to stick a spear in Israel’s gut. Chiding Israel as one of the Middle East’s “most-striking places of injustice,” he questions at one point whether it was the “aim” of Israel or the United States to “entirely eliminate the presence of the state and the people of Palestine.” At another, he held up a giant cardboard map depicting in four stages the expansion of the Zionist “occupational” regime.

All of this occurred just five days after the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center released a scathing report on Turkey’s role in financing the murder of Jews. “Turkey turns a blind eye to Hamas’s covert operational and financial activity being carried out from its territory,” the center reported. Worse than ignoring the terror being plotted on their soil, Turkish authorities were known to be in direct contact with Hamas.

The report also claimed “the main source” of all this money was Iran, which is coincidentally the other genocidal Jew-hating regime to whom Erdogan has been eager to offer support. Just last week, the Turkish strongman announced that Turkey would defy US sanctions and continue buying oil from Iran.

The words of a top Revolutionary Guard commander last week should have shown how dangerous that relationship is. “Nothing will be left of Israel” he declared, describing how Iran would respond to an Israeli strike of its military facilities. “Iran has encircled Israel from all four sides,” he explained, adding the sickening embellishment that, “bits and pieces of Tel Aviv” would have to be collected from the Mediterranean Sea.
Erdogan actively assists Iran in its genocidal campaign to murder Israeli Jews, and perhaps the single most recognizable Jewish leader in the United States sits beaming by his side.

Erdogan, by the way, isn’t just a Jewish bogeyman. As I write this, he lies poised to invade Northern Syria in order to establish what he calls a “safe zone,” but what non-Muslim Syrians could call a “death zone.” The Turkish invasion will spell hell for millions of Kurds and the more than 100,000 Syriac Christians who live in northeast Syria – many of whom, according to one journalist, fear that “Erdogan will finish the genocide that ISIS started.”

For Syrian Christians, the fear is justified. Last year, Erdogan’s army collaborated with Jihadist mercenaries to overrun the Syrian city of Afrin. Turkey and its allied forces “displaced hundreds of thousands while searching for Christians and burning churches.”

The US said Turkey’s actions are of “grave concern” and do nothing to improve the already strained relations between the two countries. And yet, Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, discussed Turkey on a podcast with John Batchelor and had nothing to say on Erdogan.

IN HIS bad romance with Erdogan, Hoenlein isn’t even out of step. Other Jewish leaders have shown a troubling tendency to engage with and legitimize some of our world’s most unsavory political figures.

I was recently shocked to learn that Keren Hayesod, The United Israel Appeal, honored Vladimir Putin as the keynote speaker of its keynote event, held last month in Moscow. How could the world’s most important Jewish charity compromise its philanthropists by putting them in a situation where they have to listen to and honor a man responsible for the genocide in Syria – the man backing the very Iranian regime looking to send “bits and pieces” of Tel Aviv sailing through the Sea?

At what point is “evil” evil enough?

These moral failures weren’t even the only ones to unfold this year. Who cannot recall the Jewish communal saga involving Qatar which, despite surpassing Russia and Turkey in purveying antisemitism, managed to also surpass them in penetrating the American Jewish community?

Many Jewish leaders either visited the emir of Qatar in his capital of Doha or met with him closer to home. For those who visited Doha, these extravagant junkets included first-class airfare, lavish hotels and, reportedly, even seats to local camel races – all on Emir al-Thani’s dime. One can only imagine how the leaders of Hamas might have received the same treatment from Qatar as they launched thousands of rockets toward Israeli schools and shopping malls throughout the summer of 2014.

Powerful, shadowy figures from the Emir’s inner circle were even seen surfacing at Hoenlein’s daughter’s wedding.

What these men need to understand is that Jewish credibility is not theirs to give away. It belongs to God, and God hates dictators and tyrants who brutalize their people.

At the very least, it belongs to the American Jewish community, who have by now endured enough, to demand fair elections of all leaders who speak on their behalf. Yes, Hoenlein is about to retire as head of the Conference of Presidents. But the absurd premise that Jewish leaders can claim to represent the Jewish community when they have never been elected by the Jewish masses to any such role – and when they trample on Jewish values by legitimizing dictators – is something that must be immediately addressed and reversed.

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