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March 10, 2013

A short open letter to Secretary of State Kerry.

Dear Secretary of State,

I have a question for you.

Before you arrived in Turkey, its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told a United Nations forum in Vienna that the international community should consider Islamophobia as a crime against humanity “like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism.”

When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned Erdogan for “comparing Zionism to fascism” and described the Turkish leader’s remark as “a dark and false statement”, I found myself wondering how you would respond to it when you arrived in Turkey.

Before your plane landed, a senior State Department official who did not want to be named said Erdogan’s statement was “particularly offensive.” The official’s main concern seemed to be that it would “complicate” your ability to work with Turkey on a number of issues, the crisis in Syria and trade in particular.

In answer to a question at a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, you said “we” obviously disagreed with Erdogan’s comment and found it “objectionable”. (Davutoglu insisted that Turkey was not hostile to Israel but he didn’t grovel to Kerry. He added: “If Israel expects to hear positive comments from Turkey, I believe it needs to revise its attitudes not only toward us but also toward the settlements in the West Bank and the people of the region.”)

My question for you, Secretary of State, has a preamble.. A few days ago I was talking with a very dear Jewish friend of mine, Dr. Hajo Meyer who survived Auschwitz. In the course of our conversation about why there was no reason to hope that President Obama would seek to get a real peace process going on his forthcoming visit to Israel-Palestine, Hajo said this:

Zionism is today’s Nazism.”

Because he is a Nazi holocaust survivor, Hajo speaks with a moral authority that neither you nor I possess. How would you respond to his comment?

Sincerely,

Alan Hart

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