A prominent Jewish organization in the United States has asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to return a courage award he received in 2004, following his response to the recent Gaza operations, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reports.
“In 2004, the American Jewish Congress presented its prestigious Profile of Courage award to you as an individual and as a global leader for your stances on fighting terrorism, working to secure a peaceful solution for Israelis and Palestinians, rejecting fundamentalism and being steadfast in your commitment to protect the Jewish citizens of Turkey,” American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen said in a July 23 letter to Erdogan.
“And now, we want it back,” Rosen added.
The letter listed a number of recent remarks by Erdogan concerning the latest Gaza crisis, as well as the recent protests against Israeli diplomatic missions in Turkey.
“A decade after we gave you our award, you have become arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world -spewing dangerous rhetoric for political gain and inciting the Turkish population to violence against the Jewish people,” Rosen added in the letter.
“Your current positions, as reported in the media, are abhorrent and your attacks on Jews call into question everything we honored you for,” wrote Rosen, according to the Hurriyet.
The letter comes days after the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party called on Erdogan to return the award given by American Jewish Congress.
“Be a man of your word for once: Take it off from your neck and return it!” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), stated on July 17.
Erdogan has continuously launched verbal attacks against Israel in recent years, after Israel and Turkey’s relations were downgraded following the Marmara incident of 2010. He has upped the ante in recent weeks, however, in the wake of Israel self-defense Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
Erdogan has become increasingly vocal over the operation, and threatened to end the normalization process with Israel over "state terrorism."
He has also accused Israel of "lies" because "not enough" Israeli Jews have died in the conflict and has compared Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked to Adolf Hitler.
Responding to a journalist’s question regarding the award, Erdogan stressed that the award was given to him “in the early days” of his tenure as prime minister.
“Our relations with Israel were not like today, at the time ... Did we accept those medals as bribery and become silent? I have the strongest voice against the massacres in Gaza today,” Erdogan said, adding that the Mavi Marmara incident and Gaza wars had soured bilateral relations.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)