Congress Warns Erdoğan over Rhetoric

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

WASHINGTON (Today’s Zaman)—The Congressional Caucus on US-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans (Turkey Caucus) has warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a letter that his recent rhetoric is increasingly damaging Turkish-American relations and that it is becoming harder to defend Turkey’s interests in Washington.

In a sharply worded letter, Democrats and Republicans who’ve led House efforts to advance US-Turkish relations warned Erdoğan last week about what they considered to be his anti-Semitic comments. They told him that he risked damaging ties between the US and Turkey.

The Turkey Caucus is a bipartisan platform in which members of the US Congress focus on US-Turkish relations and issues that concern Turkish-Americans. It was established by Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Florida, Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky, and Republican Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas in March of 2001.

Turkey has been among the most outspoken critics of Israel recently for its military operations in Gaza. Erdoğan has accused the Jewish state of “barbarism surpassing Hitler.”

“Remarks you have made recently have been widely viewed as anti-Semitic and are most definitely anti-Israel,” the House letter to Erdoğan states, adding that these remarks have made it harder to “communicate in a positive way about Turkey.”

Erdoğan’s comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany is “historically inaccurate and provocative,” the lawmakers write in the July 29 letter. They lament that Turkey had at one time contributed to peace efforts in the Middle East, while the prime minister’s recent comments “do nothing to end the violence, but rather could serve to instigate further hatred.”

Speaking at a rally on Sunday in Istanbul, Erdoğan once again harshly criticized Israel for its attacks on Gaza and said, “Israel is seeking the same thing Hitler did, to create a pure race.” Then he said that he had received a letter recently from the Turkey Caucus.

“They think they are threatening me. They will receive the same kind of answer,” Erdoğan said.

The letter bears the signatures of all four caucus co-chairs: Whitfield, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, and Democratic Congressmen Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Gerry Connolly of Virginia. Some members of the Turkey Caucus expressed surprise that Erdoğan had mentioned the letter publicly.

Erdoğan’s remarks targeting Israel have recently attracted heavy criticism from the US. Department of State officials have cautioned Erdoğan not to use “inflammatory” or “offensive” language about Israel, adding that Erdoğan’s remarks only damage Turkey’s international standing. Erdoğan shot back that no one has the right to tell him what to say.

Amid growing concerns over Erdoğan’s condemnation of Israel, the American Jewish Congress (AJC) recently asked Erdoğan to return an award given to him in 2004.

“Attempts to depict Prime Minister Erdoğan’s legitimate criticism of the Israeli government’s attacks on civilians as expressions of anti-Semitism are an obvious distortion,” said the Turkish ambassador to the US, Serdar Kılıç, in a response to AJC President Jack Rosen. The letter also said that Erdoğan would gladly return the award.

The Turkey Caucus’s letter can be read below.

* * *

Dear Prime Minister Erdoğan,

As co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans, we are viewed by our colleagues as advocates for strong ties with your country. Indeed, each of us understands and values the important historical relationship between the United States and Turkey and we have worked over the years to educate our colleagues about the importance of the relationship between our countries. Our common goal is to improve those relations in a way that is beneficial and sustainable for both of our countries and economically.

It has come to our attention that remarks you have made recently have been widely viewed as anti-Semitic and are most definitely anti-Israel. Your remarks, already reviled as “offensive and wrong” by the U.S. State Department, make it increasingly difficult to communicate in a positive way about Turkey when interacting with our colleagues. Your statement: “You can see that what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, has surpassed what Hitler did to them” is historically inaccurate and provocative. Many countries around the world are focused on working towards peace in the Middle East, and at one time Turkey was considered among them. Your recent comments, however, do nothing to end violence but rather could serve to instigate further hatred.

We remain strong supporters of robust U.S.-Turkey relations and hope that you will consider the impact that such inflammatory rhetoric has on our relationship.


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  1. Alex Postallian said:

    The congress,let the mad dog,rant and rave for years…Now they realized that he is crazy..What woke them up….I don’t think they wised up…Maybe they didn’t get their bribes.Or probably heat from some decent (if possible) supporters..

  2. Zareh said:

    Even his own people are turning against him. This dude really has lost his marbles. Lol

  3. mgl said:

    How many times USA needs to see the real face of Turkey?
    And another point: “What goes around, comes around”

  4. Areg said:

    Welcome America! Smell the roses… The Turk will always remain a Turk. Stop arming Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Turkish race is enemy of humanity…

  5. GB said:

    This newly crowned Pasha acts like Grand Vizir of bloody Sultan Abdul Hamid!

  6. Krikor said:

    It is all circus . US will never let Turkey down . Who is fouling who.

    • GeorgeMardig said:

      I agrre with you: US will never let Turkey down . Turkey will never let down Israel, …and the circus goes on.

  7. eddy said:

    Somebody has to keep Hitlers and Nazi ideology alive!
    Whenever Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and fascist Azerbaijani President open there mouths it comes nothing but dirt out. The is the case with the most of racist Turkish politicians in Ankara , Baku and dictators else where

  8. Sarkis said:

    “Congress warns Erdgoan”… I had a good laugh at that one. Congress has not only failed entirely to condemn it’s NATO brother Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, but Congress and the State Department actively deny the Armenian Genocide themselves. Same with America’s “model Muslim ally” and its 23+ year illegal blockade of Armenia. And Congress and Turkey were holding hands as they trained, funded, armed, transported, paid, instructed, and unleashed the barbaric Islamist-terrorists which committed the massacre against Syria’s peaceful Kessab Armenian population, as well as countless acts of terrorism against the Syrian population and government. And this is the same Congress which a decade and a half earlier joined hands with Turkey and launched an illegal war against Armenia’s Orthodox Christian brothers in Serbia for the sole purpose of establishing a Muslim, Turkish-allied puppet “state” in occupied Kosovo. And let’s not forget that this Congress looked the other way as another Orthodox nation, Cyrus, was illegally occupied by the American-backed Turkish military.

    But hey, as valuable as Turkey is for America, it is nowhere near as precious as the Jews and Israel. This twisted international order established by the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance needs to be prohibited from spreading its poison to the Republic of Armenia. Fortunately, Armenia is Russian-backed and Russian-protected fortress and is safe from direct attacks from the west. The only threat the brotherhood of Erdogan and Congress, and the greater political entities they represent, is subversive activities within Armenia and the Diaspora, and even their they fail except for a few professional cyber-warriors. Unfortunately the Armenians in places like Kessab and Cyprus, unlike Armenia, don’t benefit from Russian protection, and have suffered massacre and deportation for it… Without a peep of Congressional condemnation or warning.

    • PNGE said:

      ”23+ year illegal blockade of Armenia” What is illegal? Turkey has a right to close its border or open its border. Last 23 years foreign policy of Turkey have not included the trade with Armenia.

    • Hratch said:

      But hey, Mother Russia’s arming of the Azeris goes on without a peep. How is it that you never comment on that issue?

    • Hratch said:

      We would all like to hear your position on the 4 billion dollar sales of sophisticated weapons to the Azeris by your beloved Orthodox brothers. Can you come out under your rock for once and comment on this issue. Let’s see if an internet troll can disobey its employer.

      • Armenian said:

        Brilliant. The hypocrisy from the initial comment is outrageous and completely ridiculous. It’s a shame that some Armenians claim to represent the interests of our nation, yet continuously allow us to be slapped around by the likes of Putin. And given the repulsive things the initial user has been on record as saying, about pretty anyone who’s not a Russian neo-fascist.

      • Sarkis said:

        You are racking up quite the ad hominem count:

        -“come out under your rock for once”

        -“an internet troll can disobey its employer”

        My motivation for commenting and replying to comments on Armenian Internet forums is purely a love of my Armenian Fatherland, not because some non-existent entity is “employing” me. Whenever I see irrational rhetoric being spread about Armenia, Armenian issues, or the crucial and strategic Russia-Armenia alliance, I post responses to counter any lies I have seen with the truth. The objective truth, not arguments based on emotion and not arguments based on attacking others.

        And we all know that certain entities in the world, particularly Turkey and Azerbaijan and their foreign backers, are intent on running a psychological war campaign in the vain hope of turning the Armenian people against Russia and forcing Russia out of Armenia so that the Turks and Azeris can “deal with” tiny Armenia without Russia there to protect Armenia. You play that role on this website, indicated by the fact that you comment on every article, no matter what the topic may be, and leave irrational, often racist, anti-Russian rhetoric. And you personally attack others who point out that without Russia in Armenia, Armenia could not survive in the South Caucasus.

        I think that sufficiently explains our situation. As for weapons sales, please see above.

  9. Hratch Karamanoukian MD said:

    Has it ever been ‘easy’ to defend Turkey’s actions in the U.S. Congress ?