Modern Turkey bears little resemblance to the secular republic created by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Over the past decade, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been transforming Turkey into an Islamic state. The most recent example of this has been the arrest of an internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist for insulting Islam. Fazil Say said “the Koran says there are rivers of drinks in heaven, that makes it sound like a pub, while the beautiful women available there make it sound like a brothel.” He could receive a jail sentence of up to 18 months.
Meanwhile Turkish prisons are filling up with political prisoners who have been charged with crimes such as treason and terrorism. The Turkish military used to see themselves as the guardians of the secular republic. Now dozens of senior military officers, including former generals are facing trials for having acted against previous Islamist governments. These actions pose a direct threat to Israel, as influential secular individuals, who tend to be pro-Israel, are being silenced and replaced with radical Islamists who are anti-Israel.
In this atmosphere of increasing Turkish hostility towards Israel, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has sensibly refused to apologize to Turkey over the Gaza flotilla incident. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan recently continued his anti-Israel rhetoric by saying “Palestinian men, women and children that have done nothing wrong are being killed wholesale or held in the largest prison”.
The media and the Israeli government have failed to hold Erdogan to account by pointing out Turkish hypocrisy. Yes, there is a country in the Middle East that has committed a genocide, continues an illegal occupation and discriminates against its citizens. Turkey committed a genocide against the Armenians, illegally occupies northern Cyprus and discriminates against its Kurdish minority. The Israeli government should follow the example of 21 countries and respond to the next Turkish incitement by recognizing the Armenian genocide.