One of President Obama’s closest friends on the world stage, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would be “Glad to return” an award given to him by a Jewish American group in 2004. The American Jewish Congress asked for it back because of the virulently anti-Semitic comments he’s been making regarding the conflict in Gaza.
Turkey’s US ambassador writes to Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, on Erdogan’s behalf saying that because of Israel’s actions in Gaza and “the regrettable stance” of the American Jewish Congress, Erdogan “will be glad to return the award.” The letter is dated July 27 and made available Tuesday.
Rosen said Erdogan was given the Profile of Courage award “for working for a peaceful solution in the Middle East and his commitment to protecting Turkey’s Jewish citizens.”
In the letter asking for the award back, Rosen denounced Erdogan as “arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world.”
Erdogan has characterized Israel’s attacks on Gaza as “genocide” of the
Palestinians, and claimed that the Jewish state “surpasses Hitler in barbarism.”
At Breitbart London, Abe Katsman chronicled Erdogan’s long record of anti-Semitic statements.
In 1998, prior to his stint as PM, Erdogan – then mayor of Istanbul – infamously declared that “the Jews have begun to crush the Muslims in Palestine, in the name of Zionism. Today, the image of the Jews is no different than that of the Nazis.”
There has been an alarming rise in anti-Semitism in Turkey in recent weeks, fuelled by angry anti-Israel rhetoric.
Earlier this month, the mayor of the Turkish capital Ankara – and a close ally of Erdogan – threw his support behind a high-profile Turkish pop singer who praised Hitler and posted a slew of other anti-Semitic messages on Twitter.
More recently, anti-Israel campaigners called for a boycott of a popular Turkish author, purely due to the fact that he was Jewish.
Erdogan’s own anti-Israel statements have dimmed the prospects of rebuilding of relations between the two countries – which particularly soured in the aftermath of the infamous “Mavi Marmara” flotilla incident in 2010.
Erdogan has in the past accused Israel of leading a “conspiracy” to overthrow his government and in a recent heated exchange with a Turkish opposition activist referred to his opponent as “Israeli sperm.”
Erdogan is one of a handful of world leaders Barack Obama has said he is particularly close to. In a January 2012 interview with with Time’s Fareed Zakaria, Obama named his international top friends to be Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“Have you been able to forge similar relationships with foreign leaders?” Zakaria had asked Obama. “Because one of the criticisms people make about your style of diplomacy is it’s very cool, it’s aloof, that you don’t pal around with these guys.”
Obama replied that he could not compare his relationships to those of past presidents, but “the friendships and the bonds of trust that I’ve been able to forge with a whole range of leaders is precisely — or is a big part of what has allowed us to execute effective diplomacy.”
Obama’s description of why these are his best buddies on the world stage, was particularly Obamaesque – these would be the leaders who have the most trust and confidence in him, you see. And that’s why they’re able to get “a whole bunch of stuff done.”
Anyway, according to reports, Obama and the virulently anti-Semitic Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan talk on the phone regularly.