| 18 May 2024, Saturday |

Erdogan Surprises Tel Aviv with Positive Statements about Jews, Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took Jewish political and spiritual leaders in Israel by surprise when he said that relations with Israel were “vital for the security and stability of the region” and spoke optimistically about the potential for improving ties.

His remarks were made during a meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara with Turkey’s chief rabbi, along with a group of rabbis and heads of Jewish religious communities from countries of the Islamic world.

He said that despite differences with Israel over its policies toward Palestinians, “our relations with Israel in the fields of economy, trade and tourism are progressing in their own way.”

The government seeks to achieve a fair and permanent peace between Israel and Palestine based on mutual respect, Erdogan stressed.

An Israeli political official said that Erdogan’s statements “are surprising and not familiar.”

“They represent a strong message that must be assessed and responded to as appropriate.”

The Times of Israel website deemed his statements “incredibly positive.”

Earlier this week, Istanbul hosted the inaugural conference of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States (ARIS) to discuss Jewish law and exchange experiences of supporting Jewish life in Muslim-majority countries.

In attendance were rabbis representing more than 10 countries, including Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Albania, Kosovo, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as Turkey, whose chief rabbinate served as hosts to the conference.

During his meeting with the rabbis in Ankara, Erdogan spoke in very strong terms against antisemitism and Islamophobia and reiterated the Turkish stance that denying the Holocaust is a crime against humanity.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat