Turkish Prime Minister Pledges to ADL: Will Fight Anti-Semitism and Promote Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks
New York, NY, December 15, 2004 … Capping a series of meetings with high-level officials in Istanbul and Ankara, a delegation of leaders from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) this week met with Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who pledged that his country would continue to fight anti-Semitism and take a leading role in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The mission to Turkey, which also included meetings with the Justice Minister, members of parliament, representatives of the Jewish community and Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, was led by Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
Mr. Foxman told Prime Minister Erdogan that his clear denunciation of anti-Semitism and expressions of solidarity with the Jewish community following last year's bombings of two synagogues in Istanbul, "will never be forgotten." Mr. Erdogan responded, "The same God created us all. Anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity. It is our red line."
Mr. Erdogan told the ADL leaders that Turkey will send its Foreign Minister to Israel before the end of the year and that he himself planned to visit Israel in 2005. Mr. Foxman emphasized the important role Turkey could play in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as well as in re-energizing peace talks between Israel and Syria.
Ms. Balser assured the Prime Minister that, "ADL strongly supports Turkey's bid for full membership in the European Union."
In a meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople, Mr. Foxman spoke of the need to have meaningful interfaith dialogue and thanked the Patriarch for making efforts to create an atmosphere for improved relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews. Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, called on the Orthodox Church to embark on a process of examining past attitudes that have contributed toward the hatred of Jews, similar to the process undertaken by the Catholic and Lutheran churches. The delegation asked the Patriarch to ensure that anti-Semitic tracts such as the infamous "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" would be removed from church bookstores in Greece.
In the meeting with Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, he expressed interest in bringing to Turkey the League's anti-bias training programs for law enforcement. ADL urged the Justice Minister to use the powers available to him under the Turkish laws against incitement to fight hatred on the Internet and in the media.
The ADL leaders also met with Ali Bardakoglu, President of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Rabbi Isak Haleva, the Chief Rabbi of Turkey, U.S. Ambassador Eric Edelman, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas and members of Turkey's 22,000-member Jewish community. The delegation also met with members of the Turkey-Israel Friendship Caucus of Parliament.
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.