ADL Applauds President Peres for Principled Response to Turkish Prime Minister's Anti-Israel Remarks at Davos

New York, NY, January 31, 2009 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) applauded Israeli President Shimon Peres for his "reasoned and principled response" to the strident denunciation of Israel delivered by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a panel discussion on Gaza at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

After sitting through a fifteen-minute diatribe against Israel, President Peres offered a reasoned and principled response to Prime Minister Erdogan's vitriolic condemnation of Israel and unqualified embrace of Hamas, which he cynically couched in terms of humanitarian concern.

Despite the affront to an Israeli head of state, President Peres vigorously rebutted each of the outrageous charges leveled against Israel.  He appropriately pointed out to the prestigious international audience that the terrorist organization Hamas had left Israel with no choice but to act to defend its citizens after enduring eight years of indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks, and that no other country, including Turkey, would have acted differently.

Since the beginning of the conflict in Gaza, Prime Minister Erdogan has engaged in angry tirades against Israel.  His harshest statements have been used by some in Turkey to justify vicious anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts of intimidation targeting Jews.  We are concerned his angry outburst in Davos will only add to the already tense atmosphere.

We were pleased to learn that, in an act of statesmanship, President Peres reached out to Prime Minister Erdogan by telephone immediately after the event to clear the air and calm the situation.  We welcome Prime Minister Erdogan's comment upon returning to Istanbul that his criticism was not directed toward the Israeli people or Jews. We believe that a more moderate tone in the prime minister's criticism of Israel would help to tamp down the recent outpouring of anti-Semitism in Turkey.

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The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.