Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip ErdoganIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to reassure the country’s Jewish community, saying that he will ensure its safety, Anatolia news agency reported.

Two American-Jewish men reportedly approached the Turkish PM while he was attending the Rio 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to ask him "to protect" Jewish people living in Turkey.

"Under my leadership, the Jewish community in Turkey is safe," Erdogan said. "They are under my protection. We see [Jewish people] as brothers."

"We have no problem with the Israeli people," Erdogan said in response to a question. 

"Our problem is the aggressive behavior of the Israeli government. We have to find solutions to problems in the Middle East. The Israelis have to treat the Palestinians better."

The Algemeiner identified the men as brothers Avraham and Yirmi Berkowitz, rabbis of Chabad Lubavitch. “It was a chance meeting,” they said, adding, “we mentioned the ancient and prestigious history of Jews in Turkey, which the Prime Minister acknowledged.”

“Erdogan also mentioned Chief Rabbi Rabbi Yitzchak Haleva by name, saying that he ‘is like a brother to me,’” they said.

The rabbis told the paper that they responded by saying, “that the people of Israel don’t want to kill anyone, we love life and hate death, but the State of Israel needs to be able to defend itself and needs to have secure borders.”