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ADL, B’nai B’rith boycott Turkey meeting

WASHINGTON (JTA) — At least two Jewish groups are boycotting a meeting requested by Turkey’s ruling party.

Top lawmakers and administration officials affiliated with the AKP Party were in Washington on Wednesday to meet with Obama administration officials and U.S. lawmakers. They added a meeting with Jewish organizational leaders, but at least two declined: the Anti-Defamation League and B’nai B’rith International.

Other groups invited, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee, did not return calls from JTA.

Jewish groups are furious with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who heads the AKP, for his recent broadsides against Israel. These have increased since May 31, when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish-flagged aid ship aimed at breaching Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish passengers, including one Turkish American, died in violence after the Israelis boarded the ship, and seven Israeli troops were injured.

In a speech last week, Erdogan likened the Star of David to a swastika. Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, said he also was outraged that Turkey had withdrawn participation from a teachers’ conference in Israel on teaching the Holocaust.

"That’s it, this has nothing to do with the boat, foreign policy," Foxman told JTA, speaking of the teachers’ conference. "If they cancel that, why should I go?" 

Turkey’s government has relied traditionally on Jewish groups in Washington to help represent its interests.

One pending matter of concern is a resolution under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives that would recognize the Ottoman massacres of Armenians in 1915-16 as a genocide, as most historians already do.

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