Erdogan’s Rapprochement With Israel and the Jewish People

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After yet another year of antisemitic and anti-Israeli tirades, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met last week with leaders of the Jewish community in Turkey and the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, and made a few conciliatory statements towards the state of Israel. What is behind Erdogan’s latest moves? Are his goodwill gestures to be taken at face value, or is there something more behind this?

About the speaker: Dr. Aykan Erdemir is senior director Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Turkey program and is a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015) who served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet.

Aykan is a founding and steering committee member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief and drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief (2014), as well as a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. He also serves on the Anti-Defamation League’s Task Force on Middle East Minorities. He was awarded the Stefanus Prize for Religious Freedom in 2016 and the First Freedom Award of the Hellenic American Leadership Council in 2019 in recognition of his advocacy for minority rights and religious freedoms.

Aykan is co-author of the 2016 book Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces (Routledge). His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, The Hill, Politico Europe, The Huffington Post, The National Interest, War On The Rocks, The Cipher Brief, Business Insider, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Hurriyet Daily News, Al-Arabiya, Ahram, The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel, among others. He holds a BA in International Relations from Bilkent University, Ankara and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and Ph.D. in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies, both from Harvard University.

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