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Turkey snubs Jewish body's call to return Erdogan award

A call by the American Jewish Congress for Recep Tayyip Erdogan to return his 2004 Courage Award shows it is "blind towards the Israeli government's brutality and occupation policies" in the Occupied Territories, the Turkish Prime Minister's office has said in a letter to the organisation.

Turkey's Prime Minister's Office of Public Diplomacy said on Tuesday that Turkey's Ambassador to Washington, Serdar Kilic, had handed the letter to the organisation after it demanded the return of the award following Erdogan's criticism of Israel's onslaught on Gaza.

The letter, addressed to AJC Chairman Jack Rosen, stated: "The demand to return the letter is an indication of the AJC remaining blind towards the Israeli government's brutality and occupation policies (in the Occupied Territories)."

"(Erdogan's) fight against terrorism today is as it was yesterday – the prevention of extremism – and he is bent upon the implementation of a two-state formula to solve the Palestinian problem."

Erdogan received the award from the AJC in 2004 for his stance on "fighting terrorism and promoting peace".

The letter went on: "Instead of acting according to the requirements of international law, Israel continues its occupation and destruction policies … (and) attempts to reflect Prime Minister Erdogan's legitimate criticism of the Israeli government's attacks against civilians as being anti-Semitic, is a distortion."

The letter, which emphasised that Erdogan is "a leader who has proclaimed to the world that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity", added: "Erdogan has developed a close relationship with the Jewish community in Turkey. Jewish citizens in Turkey and the rest of the world have kept themselves separate from Israel's policies."

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