18 April 2014, Friday
Today's Zaman

Barak dismisses anti-Semitism charges in Turkey, understands Erdoğan's criticism

17 January 2010, Sunday /ABDULLAH BOZKURT
Top Israeli defense official dismissed on Sunday allegations that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Turkey and downplayed the criticisms of Turkish Prime Minister who had leveled harsh remarks against Israel for the Gaza offensive.

Talking to a group of reporters at the embassy residency in Ankara, visiting Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said “I do not see signs of anti-Semitism in Turkey unlike other countries in the world.” Recalling that Turkish individuals had always helped liberate Jews in the Spanish inquisition or during Nazi regime in WWII, he said “Jews are accepted here.”

Asked if he was concerned with the continuing criticism of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s against Israeli policies in Palestinian territories especially in Gaza where Israel imposes embargo, Barak said he understand the position of Erdoğan. “He speaks frankly and openly” defense minister said, adding to that “you cannot put a question mark on the judgment of Turkey.”

Barak also said the criticism of Erdoğan stands in sharp contrast to what Barak described as “unjust” report issued by a “Jewish judge.” Barak was referring to Justice Richard Goldstein who authored the United Nations report on the Gaza conflict which had found strong evidence of human rights violations committed by Israeli forces.

While downplaying Turkey’s objections when it comes to Palestine, Barak said he hoped Turkey would understand Israeli motives in policies pursued by the government. “We try to protect our citizens, which is our prime responsibility” he stressed. Nevertheless Israeli defense minister signaled that Israeli government understands Turkey’s position in the region “Obviously we want Turkey to be more pro-Israel. But you need to take a look at the whole picture in the region” he underlined.

“We tried to prepare the ground with the hope of starting new chapter with less friction” he remarked when evaluating the feeling in the meetings he held in Ankara.  Stressing that nobody can predict future in the Middle East, he noted “I will do my best not to see any breakup in ties with Turkey.”

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