WASHINGTON (A.W)—As the diplomatic row between Israel and Turkey continues, attempts are being made by the Israel lobby in the U.S. to infuse some calm. On Jan. 16, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found the appointment of Namik Tan as ambassador to the United States a welcome move, since Tan is a former ambassador to Israel and, before that, served as a liaison with the Jewish community in Washington. Tan replaced Nabi Sensoy as ambassador when the latter abruptly resigned in December.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Jess Hordes, the director of the ADL’s Washington office, said, “I would like to think there was a certain calculation in sending him. The fact that he’s known in Washington, on the Hill, and that he’s worked with the Jewish community, which he served in Israel, I would like to think that that’s [one] way of sending a positive signal.”
‘1915 was a genocide, but…’
Hordes added that the ADL’s position on the Armenian Genocide had not changed. “We continue to believe that there was a genocide, but there’s no useful purpose in the House or the Senate passing a resolution on it at this time. It’s a principled post that the better way of addressing this issue is for the Armenians and the Turks to move forward with this through the historical commission,” Hordes said.
Concern about ‘anti-Jewish climate’
On Jan. 13, the ADL issued a statement renewing “its concern that Turkish society is becoming increasingly and openly hostile to Jews and Israel—with harmful statements by government officials and hateful depictions in the mass media.”
“We continue to be concerned about a new environment in Turkey which permits and even encourages extreme expressions regarding Jews and Israel,” said Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL’s national director. “We cannot ignore this new atmosphere in which distorted views of Israel and Jews are freely expressed and made to seem acceptable.”
The ADL wrote a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan citing his government’s “harshly critical statements”—and his own remarks during a recent a visit to Lebanon—as a case in point. Erdogan had condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza, accused the Jewish state of threatening to undermine “global peace,” and called for the UN Security Council to consider sanctions against Israel.
The ADL’s letter also pointed to two recent television dramas that portrayed Israelis and the Israeli military as inherently evil and conniving. The recent television series “Valley of the Wolves” reportedly featured Israeli agents as baby snatchers.
“While we have celebrated Turkey’s history of coexistence with Jews and the protection Turkish society provides for its Jewish community, we cannot ignore this new atmosphere and its potential consequences,” said Foxman. “We respectfully urge the Turkish government to speak out directly to reject anti-Semitism and incendiary demonizing depictions of Israel and Israelis, and to reiterate Turkey’s support for its Jewish community.”