Turkey replies to US congress' criticism of PM's remarks on Gaza massacre
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULAug 05, 2014 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Aug 05, 2014 12:00 am
Turkey officially answered the U.S. Congress on Tuesday after a letter by the House stating that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had jeopardized ties between the U.S. and Turkey due to his statements against Israel regarding the massacre of almost 2,000 Gazans, mostly civilian women and children.
Ambassador Volkan Bozkır, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in response to the congressmen wrote, "The assertion in your letter that some remarks of our prime minister are 'anti-Israel' and can be viewed as 'anti-Semitic' is completely baseless."
The ambassador's letter also indicated that the silence and ineffectiveness of the United States has been disappointing and that it has damaged the international public's conscience and sense of justice.
In the official letter, it stated that Turkey supports and values the vital importance of strengthening Turkish-American relations, not only for respective countries, but also for regional and global peace and stability. However, the official statement adds, "What is even more shameful is the fact that the countries who consider themselves as the leaders of the free and civilized world have remained largely silent against these massacres and inhumane actions, even defending and encouraging Israel under the 'right of self-defense'."
The statement continues by stating that the Israeli government uses anti-Semitism to cover-up its policies of occupation and destruction while disregarding international law and its war crimes:
"Prime Minister Erdoğan has publicly denounced anti-Semitism as a crime against humanity. Your characterization of the legitimate criticisms leveled by our prime minister at the Israeli government's policies of terror and destruction as anti-Semitism constitutes a distortion of facts and a cover-up of Israeli violation of law and, possibly, its war crimes. We must bear in mind that Israeli leaders are not above the law."
A sharply worded letter by Democrats and Republicans, who have led efforts in the House of Representatives to advance U.S.-Turkish relations, warned Prime Minister Erdoğan last week about what they considered to be heavy comments, which Erdoğan strongly rejected. Erdoğan's comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany is "historically inaccurate and provocative," the lawmakers wrote in the July 29 letter. The letter writers are Democrats Steve Cohen and Gerald Connolly and Republicans Ed Whitfield and Virginia Foxx. "Remarks you have made recently have been widely viewed as anti-Semitic and are most definitely anti-Israel," the House letter to Erdoğan stated, adding that they've made it harder to "communicate in a positive way about Turkey."
Erdoğan has recently dismissed Israel's claims of self-defense and accused the Israeli leadership of trying to legitimize immorality and injustice through false rhetoric.
"The Israeli genocide is reminiscent of Hitler's Holocaust because Israel is acting with the same immorality as Hitler. They carry on Hitler's spirit. Israel has sprayed death bullets on Gazans, including women and children. Children [who were killed during Israeli aggression] in Gaza did not even see Eid al-Fitr. They killed [children] in their homes, in parks and on beaches," Erdoğan said during a rally in eastern Turkey last month.
Erdoğan denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he said that Erdoğan's remarks on Israeli aggression were anti-Semitic.
Erdoğan repeated his sentiments that anti-Semitism is a humanitarian crime just like Islamophobia.
Erdoğan also said that he contacted Jewish leaders in Turkey, advising them to adopt a firm stance and release a statement against the Israeli government. "But whether or not they release a statement, we will never let Jewish people in Turkey get hurt," Erdoğan said.
Copy of official statement to U.S. Congress on 'anti-Semitic' comments on Gaza