Major US Jewish Groups Skip Meeting with Turkey

Published: June 18th 2010
in News » World

ADL national director Abraham Foxman
Pic: youtube

After the tragic flotilla raid that led to the death of nine pro-Palestinian activists, eight being Turkish citizen and one a Turkish American, reports say that Turkey has plans to decrease its ties with Israel. According to Associated Press, Turkey has threatened to retain Israel’s Turkish Ambassador until Israel apologizes for the deadly raid on Gaza-bound ships, return the seized ships, and agree to an international investigation into the raid and offer compensation for its victims within a “reasonable” period of time.


Israel agreed Thursday to ease its land blockade and allow selected restricted items to enter Gaza in an effort to ease the worldwide outrage that followed the confrontation during the May 31st flotilla raid.


With Israel’s recent acts to ease the tensions following the raid, including easing the blockade as well as allowing the aid from the ships to enter Gaza, Turkish Foreign Ministry made a statement in Turkish newspaper, Today’s Zaman: "The fact that the humanitarian aid material on ships taking part in the Gaza aid convoy will be distributed to Gaza by the UN with consent of all parties is considered a positive development in regards to allowing the aids project to achieve its goal."


However, in a meeting held Wednesday evening in Washington DC that included members of the Turkish ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party), American Jewish organizations (including AIPAC, B’nai Brith International and the Anti-Defamation League) declined their invitation to protest deteriorating relations between Ankara and Jerusalem.


ADL National Director Abraham Foxman told Haaretz that he believed the conversation anticipated for the meeting would not be useful. He said, “I believe in dialogue and meetings but there is a point at which it becomes useless to have a conversation.”


Foxman later said that he would be willing to resume talks once Turkey has restored its ties with Israel. “Let them first reconcile with Israeli government, and then I’ll be delighted to talk to them,” he said.


However unlike the other American Jewish organizations, the American Jewish Committee attended the meeting with the intention of easing the tensions between the two countries and restoring relations which AJC spokesman Alex Weininger told Haaretz “should not be easily discarded.”


Currently, a petition has been circulating US Congress in support of Israel’s right to defend itself. The petition states the following: “The blockade of Gaza was instituted to stop terrorists from smuggling weapons into Gaza to murder innocent civilians.” The petition goes on to make a critical analysis of the flotilla incident, saying, “The several dozen who attacked the Israeli soldiers were not peaceful aid workers, but extremists who sought to aid the Iran-backed terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza.”


This petition provoked another letter by leftist American Jewish group, J Street, in an attempt to urge Congress to refrain from signing the petition in support of Israel, with the belief that the petition is counterproductive.


The letter, written by J Street’s President, Jeremy Ben-Ami, states, “The petitions now circulating in the House and Senate, while expressing strong American support for Israel – a position we endorse – fail to address the impact of the present closure of Gaza on the civilian population, the deep American interest in resolving this conflict diplomatically, or the urgency of moving forward with diplomacy before it is too late.”


In contrast, the Jewish organization, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, urged lawmakers to sign the petition. Vice-chairman Malcolm Hoenlin told Haaretz that though they did not participate in the meeting with the Turkish lawmakers, it was “clearly not the right time for a constructive dialogue.”

Related articles: (turkey, ADL, American Jewish committee, abraham foxman, J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, flotilla, gaza blockade)

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