Turkish president tells Jewish leadership to fight Islamophobia, anti-Semitism.
Jewish leaders must stand against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
The Turkish leader, who is in the U.S. capital to attend a nuclear summit later this week, discussed a number of issues including the European refugee crisis, anti-refugee rhetoric, the rise of racism in the West, counterterrorism efforts, U.S., Israeli and Turkish relations as well as Palestinian issue, according to presidential sources.
“Unfortunately anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and xenophobic movements have moved from the periphery to the center of politics,” Erdogan reportedly said. “We need to cooperate against these movements,” he said during the meeting that was closed to the media.
Jewish representatives paid their condolences to the Turkish president for recent attacks in Istanbul and Ankara and thanked him for Turkey’s care of Israeli tourists who were killed and wounded in an attack in Istanbul earlier this month.
One Israeli tourist was killed in a suicide bomb attack and several others were wounded.
The meeting comes at a time when Turkey and Israel are trying to repair a damaged relationship following a deadly assault in 2010 on a Turkish flagged ship that was part of an aid flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip.
The meeting seeks to strengthen relations between Turkish and Jewish communities despite differences, according to the president's office.
Jewish leaders told Erdogan during the meeting that recent reports that claim Israeli forces’ violence against Palestinians in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque were mostly part of a “disinformation” campaign. Erdogan told the group that he had heard accounts that were contrary to their claims.
Among the Jewish leadership present were Robert Singer, Vice President of World Jewish Congress and, the head of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee – the largest pro-Israel lobby group in the U.S.
Also in attendance was Malcom Hoenlein, Executive Vice President of The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
"It was very positive. The president was very open to discussing issues we raised," Hoenlein told Anadolu Agency. "We expressed out appreciation for the support the president himself and the government gave to the Israeli victims in the last attack."
He also voiced support for efforts to mend ties between the two countries.
AA correspondent Gulbin Yildirim contributed to this report.