US Jewish Leaders Vexed by Turkey’s Hostility Towards Israel

Jpost Correspondent in Washington

The chill in relations between Jerusalem and Ankara is resulting in a few cold winds blowing through Washington as well, though ties between Turkey and its traditional Western, pro-Israel backers haven’t reached the deep-freeze stage, according to several sources.

Several Jewish groups have historically worked closely with Turkey and its embassy here, seeking to foster Israel’s close relationship with a Muslim neighbor and strategic heavyweight in an otherwise hostile neighborhood, and at times these groups have lobbied Capitol Hill on the issues supported by Ankara.

On Armenia, for instance, some Jewish groups have pushed members of Congress not to pass resolutions labeling Turkey’s role in World War I massacres as genocide.

“Turkish hostility to Israel will naturally have ramifications when political issues regarding Turkey arrive on these shores. How could it not?” asked one Jewish leader in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Friends of Israel across the government and across the non-governmental sector will take notice.”

“People are not thrilled with Turkey at the moment,” agreed one source close to the Hill, but he added, “I have not heard of a major reorientation. That doesn’t mean people won’t reassess, especially if things get worse.”

Jewish organizational officials in Washington have conveyed their concerns to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, with one official saying that “those channels remain open.”

Jewish leaders have also been pleased that the Obama administration has taken up the issue, pressing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to improve the relationship during his December visit to the US capital.

The US State Department declined to comment for this story, as it involves sensitive relations between two allies.

Despite the US intervention, little has been seen to change on the ground, and indeed another round of flaring tempers exploded this past week, worsening relations further.

At the same time, another Jewish official pointed out, “The relationship with Turkey is bigger than Erdogan” and the current Islamic government. That government, led by Erdogan’s AKP party, has downgraded the historically close relationship between the two non-Arab countries cultivated by earlier secular governments.

But the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization with some of the strongest ties to Turkey, said it was encouraged by the appointment of a new ambassador to the United States, Namik Tan, who last served as ambassador to Israel and before that as a liaison to the Jewish community in a lower-ranking post in Washington.

“I would like to think there was a certain calculation in sending him. The fact that he’s known in Washington, on the Hill, and that he’s worked with the Jewish community, which he served in Israel, I would like to think that that’s [one] way of sending a positive signal,” said Jess Hordes, director of the ADL’s Washington office.

“Our relationship with the embassy has been, and I think will remain, close,” he said.

He also said that on the issue of the Armenian massacres, the ADL’s position hadn’t changed.

“We continue to believe that there was a genocide, but there’s no useful purpose in the House or the Senate passing a resolution on it at this time,” he explained. “It’s a principled post that the better way of addressing this issue is for the Armenians and the Turks to move forward with this through the historical commission” that’s been established.

But he added, “We have expressed our concerns about some of the statements that the prime minister has made that have been unremittingly hostile to Israel. We have also urged them to speak out where there are TV series that are very provocative and promotes an atmosphere in that society where Israel and Jews are demonized.”

The latest diplomatic row was sparked by a television show that depicted Mossad agents as baby-snatchers, which led to a summons of the Turkish ambassador to Israel in a meeting designed to humiliate him by seating him in a low chair and without a Turkish flag. Israel later apologized for the breach in protocol.

The ADL sent out a statement earlier in the week charging that Turkey “is becoming increasingly and openly hostile to Jews and Israel – with harmful statements by government officials and hateful depictions in the mass media.”


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  1. Norin Radd said:

    That fat mouth hypocritical pig, Abe Foxman, and his little piglets like Jess Hordes should simply learn to shut their mouths regarding topics they have no sincere interest in championing. The ADL has proven to be little more than a joke not to mention a mere shadow of its former self-proclamation of being a “champion of anti-discrimination”.
    No self-respecting organization can state things like “we believe this act was Genocide” then in the same breathe state “BUT, we feel that Armenians and Turks should revisit their past to solve this issue on their own, Congressional/Senatorial recognition will do little good here”. Extrapolating these statements down to basic components, what the ADL continually harps is akin to saying “we believe there was an incident of murder”  . . . .”BUT we believe the victim’s family and the murderer should resolve this issue on their own.”
    To make matters more shameful for groups such as the ADL, The Jewish Defense League, and all other Jewish organizations that have for years been hypocritically in bed with Turkey is their incessant meddling on a political level which they conduct around the clock against the very exact attempts by Armenians to “solve the problem on their own.”
    Armenians are in fact trying to “solve the problem on our own”, it’s just that we simply can’t get all of you Jews to keep your meddling to yourselves long enough for this matter of A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY to be resolved properly and documented properly and those responsible to be held accountable based on international law and precedence.
    Abe Foxman, the ADL, and those Jews and Jewish organizations that continually hold Turkey’s hand politically while silently moving against Armenians always parrot the same hypocritical statements:
    Those being:  1) “Us Jews believe that atrocity to be genocide (NOTE: Imbeciles like Mr. Foxman will use an extra caveat of using the word ‘tantamount’)” 2) “BUT us Jews think that the Armenians and Turks should resolve things ‘on their own’.”
    Then when we, Armenians do in fact try to solve things “on our own”, the “light among the nations” Jews are quick to feel compelled to meddle in and help Turkey via their political backing through Washington.
    This very scenario as described above has been in a “repeat and rinse” cycle for the past 30 years if not longer. As it continues, day by day, the ADL, Abe Foxman, and all Jewish groups like this are losing more and more credibility. The Jewish people themselves will soon begin to lose credibility due to their behavior and abysmal moral antics against other ethnic groups that have clearly and without question been subject to crimes against humanity.
    Based on Mr. Foxman’s and the ADL’s approach to these issues, one can only logically conclude that
    A) Mr. Foxman is a hypocrite and a bigot that does not actually believe in the very same mission statement of his organization which he so vehemently promotes.
    B) The ADL and groups like the ADL that continually push to politically block the proper recognition and restitution regarding the Armenian Genocide are themselves shams that only make proclamations regarding ideas of “non-discrimination” and “anti-defamation” for a distinct group of people in society, rather than for society as a whole. As such, they are depicting themselves to be organizations with mission statements that are rooted in selective morality and only for a select group of people, which in and of itself is the unquestionable epitome of bigotry and social racism.

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