New York, NY, April 10, 2023 – Amid a clamor to condemn Israel for taking firm action to keep Muslim, Christian, and Jewish holy sites safe and open to worshippers, and in the fog of disinformation that seeks to incite hate leading to terrorism, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey has reached out to the Government and people of Israel and offered condolences on the murder of two British-Israeli sisters and a young Italian lawyer who fell victim to senseless violence and hate.

The Turkish president initiated a phone call with President Isaac Herzog and expressed his condolences to the Israeli people for the two terror attacks and shared his concern over the events that transpired at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Later, Lucy Dee, the critically injured mother of the two young women killed in the Jordan Valley attack, succumbed to her injuries. 

The American Jewish Congress thanks President Erdoğan for demonstrating leadership in a time of crisis and grief, and for keeping lines of communication open with the Government and people of Israel as they dealt with the events that unfolded last week.

The readout of the telephone conversation between the presidents of Turkey and Israel provides crucial context to understanding what militants tried to achieve by inciting unrest in Jerusalem during Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover. The Israeli President informed the Turkish President that “Iran, through proxies such as Hamas, is conducting a multi-front campaign to undermine regional stability” and that this campaign is based on religious incitement and disinformation that manifested itself in “biased and false reports in the Arabic-language media,” including “the dissemination of fake and outdated videos to encourage incitement, leading to terrorism.”  

This account shows how the events of April 4, 2023, were distorted and misrepresented, when Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa after masked young men barricaded themselves inside with fireworks, clubs and rocks and refused to come out peacefully. The militant rioters disrupted peaceful Muslim worship in Ramadan and likely planned to assault peaceful Jewish worshippers visiting the mount on Passover Eve.

President Erdoğan wished President Herzog and the people of Israel a happy Passover, and the Israeli president responded with the greeting “Ramadan Kareem,” and assured the Turkish president of Israel’s firm commitment to preserving the status quo at holy sites, including the Al-Haram Al-Sharif at Temple Mount. 

Before his call with the President of Israel, President Erdoğan had telephoned his Iranian counterpart, and advised Iran to “take initiatives to guide all parties to common sense.”

For demonstrating leadership in a time of crisis and for standing with the people of Israel, President Erdoğan has our gratitude.

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.