NEW YORK, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Jewish Committee condemned the latest inflammatory statements issued against Israel by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At a joint press conference in Ankara with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Erdogan lashed out at Israel, asking rhetorically "What is your excuse this time?" when addressing last week's Israeli air strike on Gaza, which came in response to Hamas rocket and mortar attacks on communities in southern Israel. Erdogan also criticized international efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear program, saying that similar efforts were not directed at Israel.
"Prime Minister Erdogan should know that Israel's 'excuse' is its obligation to defend its citizens from bombardment by Hamas terrorists," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "He should also know that -- unlike Iran -- Israel has never threatened its neighbors with annihilation."
During Israel's defensive operation against Hamas in January 2009, Erdogan figured prominently among a handful of world leaders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who joined the chorus of vicious condemnation directed at Israel. At the World Economic Forum's Davos Summit, Erdogan angrily quoted the words of an obscure anti-Semitic writer before storming off a platform he was sharing with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
"These outbursts are painful for those of us who have over many years energetically promoted good relations between Turkey, Israel and the Jewish people," Harris said. "Regrettably, Prime Minister Erdogan's latest statement does not do a service either to the reality of the facts on the ground -- or to the search for peace and stability in this vital region."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee