WikiLeaks: Israeli envoy to Turkey says Erdogan ‘hates us religiously’

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An Israeli ambassador described Turkey’s prime minister as a “fundamentalist” who hates the Jewish state on religious grounds, according a U.S. diplomatic cable recently released.

The confidential October 2009 cable cites the musings of Gabby Levy, Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, on why Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had turned on Turkey’s longtime ally.

Levy dismissed political calculation as a motivator for Erdogan’s hostility, arguing the prime minister’s party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel,” says the cable, which was sent by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, and released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

“Instead, Levy attributed Erdogan’s harshness to deep-seated emotion: ‘He’s a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously’ and his hatred is spreading,” according to the cable.

Israeli-Turkish relations, which deteriorated after Turkey criticized Israel’s 2008-09 war in Gaza, collapsed last year after nine Turks were killed in a melee with Israeli commandos aboard a ship seeking to run Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In advance of the release of a U.N. report on the deadly incident, Israeli and Turkish negotiators have been working on a formula for resuming relations that would satisfy Turkish demands for an Israeli apology.

Israel reportedly is concerned that, if the talks fail, Turkey will not approve a replacement for Mr. Levy, whose term is scheduled to expire in a week. Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv immediately after the shipboard skirmish.

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About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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