A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and potential 2016 presidential contender has asked the prime minister of Turkey to stop inciting violence against Israel.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday “with great concern about your comments regarding Israel’s recent actions in Gaza, and reports that organizations operating in Turkey are planning to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.”
“In response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israel launched by Hamas and other terrorist organizations from Gaza, Israel instituted a naval blockade to prevent items that could be used to support these attacks from entering Gaza by sea. The intent of the measures is to protect Israel, while still allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza. I encourage you to take all appropriate measures to keep these organizations from provoking a confrontation with Israeli forces and violating this blockade. A publicity stunt by Turkish organizations in 2010 led to the regrettable loss of life, and it would be irresponsible for your government not to take measures to avoid a similar outcome this time,” Rubio wrote.
The senator referred to the Mavi Marmara, which ended in a raid of the flotilla by Israeli forces in which 10 activists were killed and 10 commandos were wounded.
“The United States has not forgotten how a centuries-old legacy of tolerance led to Turkey being the first Muslim-majority country to recognize the State of Israel in 1949. Your nation led the region, and much of the world, in acknowledging the right of the Jewish people to live in peace and security. The relationship between Turkey and Israel has historically been strong, and mutually advantageous. Although strained on the political level in recent years, economic interaction remains robust,” Rubio continued. “I was thus deeply troubled by your comments at a campaign event on August 3rd comparing Israel’s recent actions to Nazi Germany’s genocidal campaign against Jews and other minorities.”
Erdoğan, who just won the presidency in what many predict will result in a saturation of executive power, said, “Just like Hitler, who sought to establish a race free of all faults, Israel is chasing after the same target.”
“Such deplorable comments and anti-Israel views have become increasingly common among senior Turkish officials and severely undermine our mutual interest in collaboration to address the common challenges our nations face,” Rubio wrote.
“Given our nations’ long-standing partnership, and Turkey’s significant role in NATO, I urge you to halt this incendiary rhetoric regarding Israel. Additionally, I request that you take all appropriate measures to keep organizations operating in Turkey from provoking a confrontation with Israeli forces by attempting to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.”
President Obama and Erdoğan have been close, and Erdoğan even ripped off the styling of Obama’s campaign logo for his own campaign.
Obama called Erdoğan on Tuesday to congratulate him, according to the White House, and highlighted the Islamist leader’s (in a secular republic) “historic opportunity to further move Turkey forward.”