WASHINGTON (JTA) – Five major Jewish organizations called on the Turkish prime minister to "urgently address" a wave of anti-Semitism in his country.
In a letter to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the groups’ leaders wrote, "Turkey rightly prides itself on many centuries of coexistence with Jews. But today, our Jewish friends in Turkey feel besieged and threatened."
Signing on to the letter were the leaders of the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
Among the incidents cited in the letter are Istanbul billboards full of anti-Jewish propaganda posters, the door to a Jewish-owned shop in Istanbul with a sign reading "Do not buy from here, since this shop is owned by a Jew" and the defacing of a synagogue, which has led to the closure of all but one of the synagogues in the city of Izmir. Protesters also have expressed their hatred of Jews at the Israeli Consulate.
The groups’ missive notes a connection between "the inflammatory denunciation of Israel by Turkish officials" and the rise of anti-Semitism. Erdogan has called Israeli actions in Gaza "a crime against humanity" and told a municipal election campaign rally that the Jewish state was "perpetrating inhuman actions which would bring it to self-destruction."
"To be sure, we disagree with your government’s view of the situation in the Gaza Strip and with some of your own harshest statements," the leaders wrote. "We should certainly agree, however, that such differences of opinion do not justify any display of anti-Semitism in Turkey or elsewhere."
The organizations that signed on to the letter declined to support a 2007 U.S. congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, concerned that such legislation could harm the relationships between the United States and Turkey and Israel and Turkey.