Washington briefing: Jewish Americans “gravely distressed” with Turkey, which in turn is upset with Israel

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Thursday January 29, 2009

Washington - Leaders of five Jewish-American organizations expressed profound concern over what they described as "the current wave of anti-Semitic manifestations in Turkey."

In a January 21 letter addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and made available to the Armenian Reporter, the letter's co-signers said their "Jewish friends in Turkey feel besieged and threatened" and called on Turkey to address "these disturbing developments."

They also disagreed with Turkey's harsh criticism of Israel's recent campaign in Gaza.

Mr. Erdogan called the Israeli operation a "crime against humanity" and an "evil" deed and went so far as to suggest that Israel should be barred from the United Nations. There have been numerous public demonstrations in Turkey in solidarity with Gaza.

On January 29, Mr. Erdogan joined Israel's President Shimon Peres at the Global Economic Forum in Switzerland and accused Israel of "barbarism" in Gaza, BBC News reported. The Turkish premier left the panel after the moderator, David Ignatius of the Washington Post, tried to cut off his microphone.

"We're not convinced that Turkey has earned the right to lecture Israelis about human rights," the Jerusalem Post had written in an editorial on January 5, citing Turkey's decades-long campaign against Kurdish rebels that has left tens of thousands of people dead.

The five co-signers of the letter are senior executives from the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B'nai B'rith International, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

The organizations have in the past supported Turkey's agenda in Washington, including opposition to congressional resolutions on the Armenian Genocide. But following recent exchanges, Turkish daily Milliyet cited Jewish-American leaders as saying they are not inclined do so any more.

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