WJC President: Netanyahu Did the Right Thing Apologizing to Turkey


Turkish and Israeli Prime Ministers Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Binyamin Netanyahu.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder today warmly welcomed the thaw in relations between Israel and Turkey. Lauder said the news has been met by “a sigh of relief” in many Jewish communities around the world. He praised Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said it had been “the right thing to do in this situation”, despite the “very justified reservations” Netanyahu and others in Israel had had against such a step. Lauder expressed hope that the gesture by Israel would effectively end the diplomatic crisis between the two countries:

Turkey and Israel must work together. There are so many issues in the region where these two countries can make a difference. One of them is military cooperation in order to secure geopolitical stability in the Middle East.

B’nai B’rith International’s response after the jump.
Lauder said he had met with Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu seven times since the Gaza Flotilla incident in May 2010:

In these talks the Turkish side has always made it clear that if Israel apologizes a new beginning in relations is possible. We sincerely hope that they will keep their word.

The WJC president praised US President Barack Obama for brokering a breakthrough in Israeli-Turkish relations:

President Obama’s visit to Israel was extremely important. He has shown that American leadership is essential if any progress is to be made in the peace process. On behalf of the World Jewish Congress I wholeheartedly thank him not just for helping to restore Israeli-Turkish relations but also for his important visit to Israel. His visit further strengthened the bond between Israelis and Americans. We hope that this provide the basis for renewed efforts to restart negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

B’nai B’rith International also welcomed the restoration of full relations between the two countries:

The normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey — the region’s only two democracies — sends a strong message of stability in a troubled part of the world.  

This positive development comes amid the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria, where human rights groups estimate 70,000 Syrians have been killed in the two years since the uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and countless thousands have been displaced.

Under Obama’s Pressure, Netanyahu Apologizes to Turkey

Two senior administration officials addressed the issue of the phone call held today between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish PM Erdogan.

Netanyahu apologized for the Mavi Mamara flotilla incident and acknowledged “operational mistakes,” said one official. Erdogan accepted the apology, according to this official.

The other SAO called this a “first step” toward normalization of relations between the two countries. They said this had been the subject of talks between Obama and Netanyahu in Jerusalem this week.

The call took place in the trailer at the airport just before Obama took off. The leaders talked for about 30 minutes. At some point, Obama got on the phone.

Obama’s response:

I welcome the call today between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan. The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security. I am hopeful that today’s exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities.

White House Condemns Turkish PM’s Anti-Israel Statements

— by David Streeter

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor condemned Turkish Prime Minsiter Tayyip Erdogan’s hateful remarks about Zionism:

We reject Prime Minister Erdogan’s characterization of Zionism as a crime against humanity, which is offensive and wrong. We encourage people of all faiths, cultures, and ideas to denounce hateful actions and to overcome the differences of our times.

Also, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to “bring Erdogan to task” for his comments during their bilateral meeting. As Secretary Kerry flew to Ankara, a Senior State Department Aide criticized the remarks:

This was particularly offensive, frankly, to call Zionism a crime against humanity […] It does have a corrosive effect (on relations). I am sure the secretary will be very clear about how dismayed we were to hear it.

B’nai B’rith International’s statement on the subject after the jump.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement on the subject:

At a United Nations “Alliance of Civilizations” summit, convened to focus on global tolerance, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan engaged in a deplorable act by calling Zionism “a crime against humanity.”

B’nai B’rith International strongly condemns Erdoğan’s effort to revive inflammatory language equating Zionism with racism. This insidious canard was introduced at the United Nations in 1975 and rightly revoked in 1991. Erdoğan has reintroduced this odious charge to the U.N. environment.

Zionism is the embodiment of the millennia-old Jewish longing for self-determination and a return to the Jewish homeland.

Erdoğan made his pronouncement before an audience of senior-international leaders in Vienna, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

This is not the first time Erdoğan has made inciteful remarks about Israel or Jews. In November, he called Israel a “terrorist state,” during the Hamas-instigated fighting in Gaza.

B’nai B’rith calls on Erdoğan to apologize for his remarks and urges the United Nations to condemn these sentiments.