Erdogan meeting with Jewish leaders cancelled over scheduling issues

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A meeting scheduled between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a delegation from the World Jewish Congress was cancelled.

The meeting had been set for Monday morning in New York as part of Erdogan’s participation in the United Nations General Assembly Climate Summit.


The meeting was cancelled after the WJC delegation at the last minute asked to reschedule the meeting to a different time during the president’s visit, Turkish media reported. Erdogan’s packed schedule did not allow for a switch in the meeting’s time, according to reports.

Erdogan is scheduled to have numerous bilateral meetings with world leaders, and to meet with American Muslim community leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

Erdogan was highly critical of Israel during this summer’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza, calling Israel more barbaric than Hitler. He also called on the Jewish leaders in Turkey to criticize “Israeli aggression,” while also promising to protect the country’s Jewish citizens from backlash from Israel’s Gaza operation.

In an address Monday to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Erdogan said the Palestinian issue “is an important issue that has an impact not just on the Palestinians, but on all the Muslims and everyone who has a conscience in the world” and that it “lies in the heart of many of the issues in the region.”

Erdogan said that he is “very sad to see that my country, myself, and my colleagues, sometimes, are labeled as being anti-Semitic. But Turkey, in no part of its history, has ever been racist. It has never been anti-Semitic in any time in its history” and reiterated that anti-Semitism is a “crime against humanity.”

He said he should not be called anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel’s Gaza operation or for criticizing Israel for the deaths of 10 Turks on the Mavi Marmara flotilla to break the Gaza blockade.