By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
After brutally quelling massive domestic protests against his increasingly despotic rule, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now facing another serious problem: His unexpected ‘success’ in uniting Arabs and Jews against him!
The Turkish Prime Minister had already antagonized Israel and Syria with his hostile actions and statements. In recent days, he also managed to offend millions of Egyptians by rejecting their new government after Pres. Morsy was deposed by the military. Despite Erdogan’s professed objection to the overthrow of Egypt’s ‘democratically elected President,’ it is evident that he is far more concerned about saving his own neck, fearing a similar takeover by the historically coup-prone Turkish military.
Last week, Aleppo University stripped Erdogan of his honorary doctorate in international relations, awarded to him in 2009, when Syria and Turkey were enjoying a short-lived love fest. Khodr Orfaly, President of the University, accused Erdogan of instigating “plots against the Syrian people" and using "arbitrary" violence against protesters in Turkey.
After losing an Arab award, the Turkish Prime Minister may next be deprived of the “Profiles in Courage” prize given to him by the American Jewish Congress (AJC) in 2004 for “promoting peace between cultures.” In an article published last month in the Jewish “Commentary” magazine, Michael Rubin urged the AJC to revoke its award, describing Erdogan as “Hamas’s leading cheerleader, a promoter of terrorism, and a force for instability in the region. Rubin further asserted that “Erdogan already had a history of embracing rabid anti-Semitism and harboring conspiracy theories during his tenure as Istanbul’s mayor.”
Rubin also criticized Pres. Obama for “toasting Erdogan” and the 135 members of the Congressional Turkey Caucus for running “interference for Turkey’s worst excesses,” including “arbitrary arrests, police violence, launching tear gas into hotels and consulates, attacking the free press, launching anti-Semitic diatribes, and ordering the arrest of medical personnel.” Rubin questioned the motives of these House members and wondered whether they “enjoy the wining and dining Turkish authorities arrange on trips to Istanbul or Ankara as a reward for membership” in the Turkey Caucus. He urged the members of Congress to “suspend if not resign their membership.”
Rubin strongly advised the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish organizations to “base awards on lifetime achievement, not only wishful thinking. The risk of bestowing legitimacy on platforms that run contrary to the AJCongress’ mission is otherwise too great. The AJCongress’ award to Erdogan not only did not stop Erdogan’s anti-Semitism, but rather it for too long provided cover for it. Perhaps the organization can now mitigate the damage it has caused -- and also deflate Erdogan’s buffoonery -- by publicly revoking its award.”
Regrettably, Rubin is nine years too late in criticizing AJC’s honoring of Erdogan. Back in 2004, within days of the award ceremony, I wrote a column critical of AJC and its President Jack Rosen who had absurdly announced that his organization was honoring Erdogan as leader of “a model Moslem country.”
Now that the whole world has seen Erdogan’s true colors under the façade of leading “a model Moslem country,” many others need to reconsider the awards they had lavishly heaped on this undeserving leader.
For example, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) should revoke its prestigious “Courage to Care Award” presented to Erdogan in 2005. On that ‘happy’ occasion, the Prime Minister pointed out to Abraham Foxman, ADL’s National Director, Turkey’s “close relationship with Israel,” and pledged “zero tolerance” for “anti-Semitic diatribes.”
Here are some other honors given to Erdogan that should be rescinded:
-- Russian state medal from Pres. Vladimir Putin (June 1, 2006)
-- Crystal Hermes Award from German Chancellor Angela Merkel (April 15, 2007)
-- Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civilian award of Pakistan (Oct. 26, 2009)
-- King Faisal International Prize for "Service to Islam" (Jan. 12, 2010)
-- Georgia's Order of Golden Fleece (May 17, 2010)
-- Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi’s International Prize for Human Rights (Nov. 29, 2010)
-- Kuwait’s "Outstanding Personality in the Islamic World Award" (Jan. 11, 2011)
-- St. John's University, New York (Jan. 26, 2004)
-- European University of Madrid (May 18, 2010)
-- Moscow State University (March 16, 2011)
-- Shanghai International Studies University (Apr. 11, 2012)
-- University of Algiers (July 5, 2013)
-- South Korea (February 2004)
-- Iran (February 2009)
-- Kosovo (November 2010)
All those who have honored Erdogan have simply dishonored themselves. The sooner they revoke their accolades, the sooner they will redeem themselves from their disgraceful acts.