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Retract Zionism slur, U.S. lawmakers urge Turkey’s Erdogan

JTA

March 13, 2013 | 10:34 am

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on March 4. Photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on March 4. Photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

Eighty-nine members of the U.S. Congress signed a letter calling on Turkey's prime minister to retract his comments blasting Zionism.

The lawmakers, representing both houses of Congress and both political parties, sent the one-page letter to Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday to express “our grave disappointment with the statement you made at the United Nations-sponsored conference in Vienna last month equating Zionism -- the foundation of the Jewish state and the movement for Jewish self-determination -- with fascism and anti-Semitism, and labeling it a ‘crime against humanity.’ ”

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who signed the letter, in a statement sent to JTA said Erdogan's “outlandish comment is simply unacceptable” and "further threatens unrest in an already perilous region.”

Another signer, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), said, "Rather than pursuing closer ties with the United States, Europe and Israel, Erdogan continues to pursue a policy of distance and isolation from the West.”

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