Schneider, Weber, Frankel, Meadows Lead Bipartisan Letter Calling on Turkish President to Condemn Anti-Semitic Statements by Turkish Officials
Washington, DC — Representatives Brad Schneider (IL-10), Randy Weber (TX-14), Lois Frankel (FL-22) and Mark Meadows (NC-11) — who serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee — sent a bipartisan letter today to Turkish President Abdullah Gül calling on him to condemn recent anti-Semitic statements by Turkish officials.
Co-signed by 46 Members including the Chairman and Ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the letter highlights the US-Turkish relationship emphasizing Turkey’s critical contributions to our NATO alliance, partnership in Afghanistan and combatting global terror, and absorbing hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. However, the letter stresses that, “it is in this context of cooperation and friendship that we urge you to publically condemn the use of anti-Semitic rhetoric by government officials. It has no place in a democracy and puts unnecessary strains on the relationship between our two great countries.”
Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.
Dear President Gul:
As Members of the United States House of Representatives, dedicated to preserving our country’s longstanding relationship with Turkey, we are writing to express our profound concern over recent anti-Semitic remarks by senior Turkish officials.
In March, many Members in the House sent a letter to Prime Minister Erdogan urging him to retract a statement in which he referred to Zionism as a “crime against humanity.” Regrettably, we have not yet received a response, and instead have seen a rise in anti-Semitic statements. Most recently, the Prime Minister blamed outside forces including “the Interest rate lobby,” – a thinly veiled reference to Jews – for the protest movement that originated in Gezi Park. Increasing our concern, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay blamed, among others, the “Jewish diaspora” for fueling the demonstrations in Turkey.
Last month President Obama referred to Turkey as “a strong ally and partner in the region and around the world.” Our countries have long worked together towards creating greater regional and global stability, and we hope to continue to build on our important alliance. Turkey has been a strategic asset in NATO, a home for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the ongoing crisis in Syria, and a crucial partner in the US campaign in Afghanistan and the fight against global terrorism.
Mr. President, it is in this context of cooperation and friendship that we urge you to publically condemn the use of anti-Semitic rhetoric by government officials. It has no place in a democracy and puts unnecessary strains on the relationship between our two great countries. Turkey has a proud, long history of tolerance, including opening her doors to the Jewish community during both the Inquisition and the Holocaust. The rich heritage of the Jewish community in Turkey and the long relationship between Turkey and the Jewish world should leave no room for such statements.
At this moment of instability and transformation across the region, and as you grapple with your own internal state of affairs, it is critical that you demonstrate the highest respect for tolerance, individual liberties, and freedom of expression.