- - Friday, May 6, 2022

Longtime New Jersey resident – television’s Dr. Oz – is running for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania as a dual Turkish-U.S. citizen.

That’s right: A citizen of a foreign country allied with an anti-America dictator, a carpetbagger to the Keystone State, and a veteran of the same foreign armed forces that occupy Cyprus, attack America’s Kurdish allies, persecute Christians, and abet Azerbaijan’s ethnic-cleansing of Armenians, is trying to convince Pennsylvania voters that he’s putting them first.

More distressing to Pennsylvania voters than Dr. Oz’s unprecedented dual-citizenship – which would be first for a Senator representing the state – are his close ties with Turkey’s anti-American dictator Recep Erdogan. Turkey is well known for running influence operations in the United States, lobbying, bullying, bribing, and even spying to get its way in Washington, DC. Questions about Dr. Oz’s loyalty to the Erdogan regime have raised concerns across the American policy-making landscape.

Benjamin Baird, writing in the December 23rd issue of The National Review (Behind Dr. Oz’s Curtain), raised alarms that “Oz’s links to Turkey’s authoritarian Justice and Development Party (AKP) extend to foreign agents and proxies accused of operating a secret lobby in the U.S. and spying on American citizens.” “These associations,” he stressed, “raise urgent questions about the Senate candidate’s loyalty to an illiberal, often antagonistic foreign government that finds itself increasingly at odds with American interests.”

Josh Rogin, in a February 16th Washington Post op/ed (Would Turkey’s president have leverage over ‘Senator Doctor Oz’?) noted Dr. Oz’s “myriad connections to Turkey and the world of its autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that are causing concern in Washington and beyond.” Rogin quoted NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom as saying: “People need to understand that Dr.Oz is in Erdogan’s pocket. And whatever Erdogan wants, that’s what Dr. Oz is going to do… So, if Dr. Oz gets into the Senate, it’s like Erdogan’s arm will be in the Senate.”

Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has said that “Oz’s dual citizenship –  and his reluctance to renounce Turkish citizenship – will keep the FBI and security managers up at night,” adding that it’s “fair game to question Oz’s judgment embracing the most reactionary elements in Turkish society.” Among these reactionary characters is Turkey’s Justice Minister, Abdulhamit Gül, who stood arm-in-arm with Dr. Oz at a Turkish parade in Brooklyn, and was later sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for human rights abuses. Dr. Oz is also a known associate of Murat Güzel, a businessman caught up in multiple FBI probes regarding Turkish attempts to interfere in U.S. politics. To add insult to injury, Dr. Oz has also acted as a spokesman for Turkish airlines, a state-controlled carrier that has been implicated in Turkey’s human trafficking and the deployment of foreign mercenaries.

Americans of Armenian and Greek heritage are especially troubled by Dr. Oz’s association with deniers of the Armenian Genocide, Ottoman Turkey’s attempted eradication of all Christians within its territories. Among these genocide-denying misanthropes is Gunay Evinch, a Turkish foreign agent, who co-hosted a 2019 event that featured remarks by the television doctor. Dr. Oz has actually fundraised for Armenian Genocide deniers, including the Turkish American National Steering Committee, and has championed the Diyanet Center of America: Erdogan’s state-controlled system of religious institutions.  As recently as April 19th, NBC News reported that Dr. Oz refused to answer a simple straightforward question about his recognition of the Armenian Genocide – a crime condemned by a unanimous vote of the U.S. Senate in 2019.

For Americans of Armenian heritage - having spent the better part of the past century working, successfully, to end U.S. cover-ups of Turkey’s genocidal crimes - it would represent a betrayal of the worst kind, a shameful rollback of America’s commitment to human rights, to send to the U.S. Senate an ally of Erdogan, the world’s foremost Armenian Genocide denier.

  • Aram Suren Hamparian is the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America.

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