(JTA) — A meeting scheduled between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and a delegation from the World Jewish Congress was canceled.
At the last minute, the WJC delegation asked to reschedule Monday’s meeting in New York to a different time, the Turkish media reported. Erdogan’s schedule did not allow for a switch in the time, according to reports.
Erdogan was in New York for the United Nations Climate Summit and the General Assembly. He was scheduled to have numerous bilateral meetings with world leaders and to meet with American Muslim community leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
The Turkish leader was highly critical of Israel during this summer’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza, calling it more barbaric than Hitler. Erdogan also called on the Jewish leaders in Turkey to criticize “Israeli aggression,” while also promising to protect the country’s Jewish citizens from backlash from Israel’s Gaza operation.
In an address Monday to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Erdogan said that the Palestinian issue “has an impact not just on the Palestinians but on all the Muslims and everyone who has a conscience in the world,” and that it “lies in the heart of many of the issues in the region.”
Erdogan said he was “very sad to see that my country, myself and my colleagues sometimes are labeled as being anti-Semitic. But Turkey, in no part of its history, has ever been racist. It has never been anti-Semitic in any time in its history.” He reiterated that anti-Semitism is a “crime against humanity.”
He said he should not be called anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel’s Gaza operation or for criticizing Israel for the deaths of nine Turks on the Mavi Marmara flotilla in May 2010 aiming to break the Gaza blockade.