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June 22, 2012 4:04 pm

Erdogan Engages Chabad Rabbis at Rio+20, Promises to Protect Turkey’s Jews

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey storms out of a World Economic Forum session after haranguing Israel's President Shimon Peres. Photo: WEF.

Two American Jewish rabbis encountered Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Rio+20: UN Conference on Sustainable Development, and asked him “to protect” Jewish people living in Turkey according to Turkish state owned news agency Anatolia.

According to the report, he responded by saying that “under my leadership, the Jewish community in Turkey is safe, they are under my protection. We see (them) as brothers.”

The Algemeiner identified the rabbis as brothers Avraham and Yirmi Berkowitz of Chabad Lubavitch. “It was a chance meeting,” they told The Algemeiner, “we mentioned the ancient and prestigious history of Jews in Turkey, which the Prime Minister acknowledged.”

“Erdogan also mentioned Chief Rabbi Rabbi Yitzchak Haleva by name saying that he ‘is like a brother to me,'” they said.

The report claimed that the rabbis asked Erdogan “what he thought about the people of Israel,” and that he responded by saying, “We have no problem with the Israeli people. Our problem is the aggressive behavior of the Israeli government. We have to find solutions to problems in the Middle East. The Israelis have to treat the Palestinians better.”

The rabbis told The Algemeiner that they responded by saying, “that the people of Israel don’t want to kill anyone, we love life and hate death, but the State of Israel needs to be able to defend itself and needs to have secure borders.”

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  • kevobx

    Esau descendants are even from Turkey? Why is the world claiming the state of Israel is Jacob, if that’s the case, who are the children of Esau, who is the elder?

  • Robert Sklar

    The correct response from Erdogan would have been that all people in Turkey enjoy the protection of the government under the Turkish constitution and have the right to practice the religion of their conscience. But Erdogan would have had to bite his lip to say that. The fact is that Jews, Greeks, Armenians and Kurds do not enjoy full civil rights and are relegated to dhimmi status. When Erdogan says that he will protect the Jews, it means that the welfare of the Jews is in Erdogan’s hands and is subject to political whim. It means that the Jews are essentially hostages. Turkey’s civil rights record is dismal and is the primary reason Turkey will not be admitted to the EU. (Please see Navon, Erdogan’s Dhimmi Problem)

    • Chaya

      Good comments, Robert Sklar!

  • Chaya

    If they need ‘protection,’ they shouldn’t be there!!! We don’t need ‘protection’ any more – they can come to Israel!!

  • Good work by Avraham and Yirmi Berkowitz. All the Lubavitch schliuchim are like ambassadors for the World Peace 2050 mission. As such they should reach out to the various leaders in the nations they are in. As many places in the world as possible need points of light who help reflect the energies of stability, order, benevolence and expansiveness.

    Shabbat Shalom !

    P.S. Istanbul is an excellent chance to host the 2020 Olympics BTW.

  • Stephen

    What are the chances of a “chance” meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey? Who are you kidding?

  • Stephen

    I am so glad to hear that they are Jewish rabbis, as opposed to non-Jewish rabbis.

  • Ephraim Shalom

    Apparently, we are to assume that Erdogan had no reply vis-a-vis their responsive remarks, or perhaps it was lost in translation? Either way, how completely predictable. At the height of his hysteria several months ago, does anyone recall the chilling effect of Erdogan’s hostility on Israeli tourism to Turkey? If memory serves, Mexico’s tourism industry suffered a similar effect from North American Jews during the 1970s after Mexico voted affirmatively with some members of the U.N. that “Zionism equals Racism” (a travesty that was ultimately rescinded). So much for Erdogan having “no problem” with the Israeli people. Erdogan – like so many who routinely criticize only the Israeli side simply for defending Israel’s “right to exist” within internationally recognized, safe and secure borders – rips Israel over her treatment of Palestinians, yet ignores the official Palestinian hostility toward Israel – which Palestinian schoolbooks and media echo as the only acceptable view for Palestinians and their supporters to take. Therein lies the root of the problem, and the main reason why the Arab-Israeli conflict remains unresolved to this day.