According to JTA, the Israeli Embassy in Washington hosted the new Congressional Hellenic Caucus:
WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Israeli ambassador in Washington hosted the launching of a new congressional grouping dedicated to improving Israeli-Greek-Cypriot ties. Attending the launch Wednesday were the co-chairmen of the newly established Hellenic-Israel Caucus, Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), as well as lawmakers including Reps. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Greek-Cypriot-Israeli ties have become closer in recent years as tensions between all three nations and Turkey have intensified for varying reasons. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in his remarks at the dinner at his residence touted shared economic and strategic interests among Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
The reception comes against the backdrop of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s declaration that Zionism—and, by extension, the existence of the State of Israel—is a “crime against humanity.” In response to that statement, Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States (and a former Turkish ambassador to Israel) said… Nothing. Requests by journalists for his reaction were ignored.
Speaking at a United Nations conference in Vienna, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared, “It is necessary that we must consider — just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism — Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.”
Let’s put aside the fact that, when they argue for the criminalization of “Islamophobia,” Erdoğan and his fellow travelers seek to ban not discrimination against Muslims, but rather criticism of the more radical outliers of radical Islamism. Hence, pointing out that under Erdoğan, the murder rate of women in Turkey has increased 1,400 percent would be considered a hate crime. Erdoğan makes no secret of his antipathy of free speech: That is why the Turkish media has descended from relative openness to somewhere below Russia, Venezuela, Iraq, Burma, and Zimbabwe in terms of free press.
Turkey is currently considering bids to upgrade its air defense system. While a member of NATO since 1952, the Islamist leadership in Turkey has made clear it no longer sees itself bound by the responsibility to protect NATO secrets nor the Turkish leadership factor into its decisions NATO’s security requirements.
Should Turkey decide to go with the Russian S-300 or Chinese HQ-9 it will have two choices: either have its air defense system disconnected from systems involved in NATO, or perhaps betray NATO secrets. If Turkey will not commit to protect sensitive information impacting U.S. defense, it remains curious why the Obama administration seems intent to go ahead with a sale of the next generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey. Alas, as always, the Congressional Turkey Caucus remains silent.