Wiesenthal Center Protests Anti-Semitic Rhetoric from Turkish Politicians

July 10, 2013

In a meeting in Washington DC yesterday with Turkish Ambassador to the United States Namik Tan, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director of Government Relations, Mark Weitzman (pictured at left), expressed outrage over recent anti-Semitic remarks by Turkey’s political leaders. These included comments by Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay who blamed “the Jewish Diaspora” for the recent unrest in Taksim Park, while Istanbul Mayor Ybrahim Melih Gokcek tweeted that the demonstrations are a “game of the Jewish lobby.”

In March, Turkish Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism a “crime against humanity,” a comment that US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly labeled as “objectionable.” In the meeting, Weitzman told Ambassador Tan that this rhetoric can poison the atmosphere and incite violence toward Turkey’s small Jewish population. He added that political leaders have to understand the potential impact of their language and must speak and act responsibly.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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