The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) former presidential candidate Muharrem İnce has apologized for what was deemed to be an anti-Semitic remark involving the Courage to Care Award while criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Hürriyet daily reported on Sunday.
“You are deemed worthy of the Courage to Care Award with the services you have performed, and you see yourself as worthy of this award,” İnce tweeted, referring to the recognition of “Erdoğan’s efforts” by Israel.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Courage to Care Award was given to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2005 in recognition of the rescue of Jews by the Turkish diplomatic corps during World War II, often misinterpreted by Turkish media as being given to Erdoğan for his personal efforts in Turkish-Israeli relations.
His remark was criticized by the Jewish community in Turkey and Turkish columnist Ahmet Hakan, who later wrote that İnce had called and apologized.
“My aim was to describe the government’s hypocritical attitude towards Israeli politics. I was wrong to criticize them through the Courage to Care Award. I am sorry. I would never want to upset our Jewish citizens in Turkey. Racism is not in my vocabulary,” İnce reportedly said.
Turkish Chief Rabbinate Foundation Chairman İshak İbrahimzadeh criticized İnce’s apology to the columnist rather than to the Jewish community in a response to the columnist’s tweet. “Dear Ahmet Bey, do you approve of Mr. İnce’s way of apologizing? Are you the recipient of his apology? Should we just be thankful for it?” he tweeted.
“Erdoğan is the only Muslim to have won the Courage to Care Award,” İnce said at the CHP’s 10th ordinary congress last December, while criticizing the president’s Syrian and Palestinian policies.