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August 16, 2018 5:21 pm

Turkish Opposition Figure Criticizes ‘Jewish’ Award, After Founder of Ruling Party Claims ‘Jewish Bankers’ Control US Economy

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Muharrem Ince speaking at the 2014 Republican People’s Party convention in Ankara. Photo: Voice of America.

A founding member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accused Zionist Jews on Tuesday of secretly controlling the US economy, days before a leading opposition figure criticized the AKP for accepting a prize from a Jewish-American group.

In a tweet shared by more than 900 people, Burhan Kuzu alleged that a dozen “Zionist banking families of Jewish descent, whose numbers to do not exceed 300,” oversee the printing of US dollars.

After claiming that Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy “were killed by the Zionists” for trying to wrest control of the economy back from “Jewish bankers,” he called on President Donald Trump to follow in their footsteps. “But he cant do it, because they will assassinate him,” Kuzu said. “Try it Trump, and see what happens!”

The lira recently plummeted in value after Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, amidst a diplomatic row over Ankara’s ongoing detention of a American evangelical pastor, which also saw Washington sanction two of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cabinet members. Turkey — whose economy was already on the brink before the spat — has retaliated by doubling tariffs on certain US imports.

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In a separate Twitter thread on Thursday, Muharrem Ince — who served as the presidential candidate for Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the June 24 elections — criticized the AKP’s recent statements about the US, claiming his own party has been on the vanguard of the fight against “imperialism.”

He accused Erdogan’s party of “protecting the outpost of imperialism with every policy” since 1950, and “surrendering the state to the Fetö terrorist organization” led by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup.

“You are the partners to the Greater Middle East Project for the last 16 years,” Ince added. “You are those who are worthy of the Jewish Courage Prize with the services you have done and deserve this award.”

Many commentators have taken this as a negative reference to the “Courage to Care Award” that Erdogan accepted in 2005 from the US-based Anti-Defamation League, which was dedicated to the people of Turkey for their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Erdogan also accepted a “Profile of Courage” award from the American Jewish Congress in 2004 for his commitment to protecting Turkish Jews and supporting Middle East peace efforts. He agreed to an AJC request to return the award in 2014, following criticism of his “dangerous rhetoric” during that summer’s war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, president of the Jewish community of Turkey, denounced Ince’s language on Thursday, asking in a tweet, “Mr. Muharrem, what’s the problem with the ‘Jewish’ award?”

“In an environment where the word ‘Jewish’ has become a symbol of hatred and alienation,” he said, “we expect you to remove this tweet that lacks awareness!”

Ince’s comments are not the first to raise concerns about antisemitism in the Turkish left. In November, Ozgur Özel — a CHP parliamentary group leader — claimed that then-Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım would fail to discuss a US clampdown on Turkish visas during a visit to Washington, and would instead “seek support from the Jewish lobby.”

A recent report by the Istanbul-based Hrant Dink Foundation found that nearly 2,300 articles containing “hate speech” were published in the Turkish press between January and April, of which 671 targeted Armenians and 427 targeted Jews.

The remaining articles included negative references to Greeks, Syrians, Christians, and other minorities.

Kuzu and Ince did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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