Erdogan, Sovereignty, and Israel

October 12, 2012 12:07 pm 6 comments

Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: wiki commons.

In the past week, the government of Turkey – understandably – launched military action against Syria in response to mortar fire by the Assad regime, which killed five Turkish civilians in the town of Akcakale. In retrospect, this represents an opportune time for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan to consider apologizing to Israel for some of his vitriolic attacks against the Jewish state following their response against Hamas rocket fire from Gaza in late 2008.

Responding to Syria’s unprovoked attack against Turkey, Erdoğan said “Turkey is a country which is capable of protecting its people and borders. No one should attempt to test our determination on the issue.”

Further, in tabling his motion in Parliament on October 4th, seeking approval for military action, Erdoğan added:

“This situation has reached a stage that poses serious threats and risks to our national security. Therefore, the need has developed to act rapidly and to take the necessary precautions against additional risks and threats that may be directed against our country.”

Every sovereign nation has the primary duty, and responsibility, to protect its citizens from foreign agression and acts of terror.

Erdoğan’s decision to send Turkish troops into Syria came after a single mortar attack, which the Syrian authorities claim was accidental, but nonetheless killed five Turkish citizens.

Yet, Israel endured something in the vicinity of 8,000-plus rockets, and many more casualities from Gaza, before retaliating against Hamas in Operation ‘Cast Lead’ in December 2008. Rocket and mortar fire still continues from the Gaza strip today.

At the time of Israel’s response, Erdoğan unleashed a barrage of vitriol against Israel, the likes of which were unprecedented in the history of relations between the two states, calling Israel’s actions against Hamas terrorists in Gaza a “crime against humanity” and saying that “Israel must pay a price for its aggression and crimes”. He even went to so far as to call for Israel to be barred from the United Nations.

At the now infamous Davos conference in Switzerland in January 2009, before storming off stage, Erdoğan, very undiplomatically, scolded Israel’s President Shimon Peres, saying “you are old, and your voice is loud out of a guilty conscience”, adding “when it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”

This diatribe immediately followed a question by President Peres, in which he asked Erdoğan, almost prophetically now: “What would you do, if rockets fell on Istanbul every night?”

Well, only one mortar fell on Turkey, and we know the response: an immediate artillery counter-strike and authorization of Turkish ground troops into Syrian territory.

Perhaps now Erdoğan may have a slightly better appreciation of the threat of rocket fire faced by Israel and the need to respond against such acts of aggression and terror against your civilian population.

Only a few days ago, during an official visit to South Africa, Erdoğan again accused Israel of “state terrorism”. This came in response to comments from an Israeli diplomat, saying the Jewish state had the right to defend itself and its citizens from the Hamas terrorist organization, who continue to launch rocket attacks into Israeli territory.

Yet, if Turkey can call its actions against Syrian mortar fire “self defense” necessary to prevent “threats and risks” to its national security, it is then the height of hypocrisy to accuse Israel of ‘state terrorism’, in circumstances where by any objective measure, the threat it faces has been more persistent, violent and larger scale.

Likewise, one may apply a similar analogy concerning Turkey’s ongoing dispute with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whom the Turkish government consider terrorists. Only today, Erdoğan proclaimed “we do no cry” for the death of “terrorists”, in response to Diyarbakir police chief’s recent expression of sympathy over the deaths of PKK militants.

In this context, it would also be advisable for Mr Erdoğan to consider dropping his persistent demands for an Israeli apology over the 2012 Gaza Flotilla, which resulted in the tragic death of nine Turkish citizens after passengers on the boat viciously attacked IDF soldiers.

Perhaps he ought to be reminded that the Flotilla, which left with the blessing of the Turkish government, under the direction of the IHH terror group, was designed to breach the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Hamas as a launching pad for rocket attacks against Israel.

Instead, Erdoğan refuses to acknowledge that Hamas, a group that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist yet still seeks its destruction, is a terrorist organization, embracing their leaders on frequent visits to Ankara.

Just as Turkey has the inalienable right to defend its citizens against acts of aggression and terror from Syria, so too does Israel have the right to defend its citizens from terror attacks by Hamas and those seeking to support them.

Instead of demanding an Israeli apology over the Flotilla, it is Mr Erdoğan who is the one that should be apologizing to Israel for his entirely unjustified and vitriolic attacks in light of his government’s recent actions. Anything less, would be completely hypocritical.

Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and freelance journalist and previously a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute and an Associate Editor at EYEontheUN.org.

6 Comments

  • I do not like the substantial “defensiveness” of your article. I would spend much more time attacking Turkey as a reactionary state under Islamist PM Erdogan. I would also ask why Israel doesn’t invite PKK speakers to Israel to advocate for their right to sovereignty, a state to be known as Kurdistan.

    It is useless, I believe to be in a defensive mode on behalf of Israel. A wiser policy would learn from the statesmanship of 19th century Bismark: exploit, for example, the Sunni-Shia divide, and pin Turkey and Iran against one another upon their “peace-loving” Islamic principles. There is no way to “reason” defensively in this Clash of Civilizations in which various Islamic religious-ideological positions are confronting the West especially.

  • David Neunuebel

    Not very convincing. Eight thousand rockets from Gaza killing no one (vs) thousands of Palestinians, many children, killed by Israel’s illegal use of American weapons during the Gaza massacre.

    Hypocrisy you say? Look in the mirror.

  • comparing the tow situation is not acceptable.Cos isereal has no right of controlling palestinian ,beside these missiles, barely caused any dammages

  • Yet another example of funny comparison regarding Turkey and Israel. Turkey is a sovereign state, according to Lausanne Treaty. However any attack from out of the borders will be responded militarily, if needed, with it’s allies like Nato.
    On the other hand, Israel, is officially in war with Arab States like Syria, Jordan, and Palestinian parties like PLO, Hamas etc. UN’s recognition of Israel doesn’t mean anything as UN only recognizes it’s territories as “occupied”. So any attack from Gaza or Hamas or any other Arab neighbors is legit under International Law. Israel just needs to defend herself from them…

  • Interesting that Israel — officially still in a state of war with Syria — did not respond in like mode when a Syrian shell accidentally landed in an area whose inhabitants (Israeli, Palestinian, and Druze) rely on Israel for their safety.
    Further, the IHH flotilla was sent with Turkey’s blessing to break the legal blockade of a Gaza controlled by Hamas which, after more than 60 years, rejects the right of Israel to exist — a period which could also have seen a Palestinian state of the same age if the surrounding Arab countries had not rejected the UN decision by attacking Israel.
    But it seems to me that the forced landing of a Syrian plane on its way from Russia — which may or may not have been carrying weapons — was a unilateral setting up of an illegal blockade.
    So Erdogan is hypocritical in the extreme, though perhaps no more so than writers in the press which serves Britain’s chattering classes.

  • What a ridiculous article and shame on the Algemeiner to allow this author to write this without disclosing that he is also a “policy analyst” at the Australia/Israel Affairs Council. Which kind of explains this hasbara nonsense

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Retreat Gives Young Artists New Platform to Engage With Jewish Ideas

    Retreat Gives Young Artists New Platform to Engage With Jewish Ideas

    JNS.org – Many young Jewish artists struggle to define who they are personally, artistically, and religiously. Against the backdrop of that struggle, the recent Asylum Arts International Jewish Artists Retreat provided a space for some 70 young Jewish artists to explore Jewish ideas, to build community and a culture of reciprocity, and to learn skills to assist their career development. “We are trying to encourage and excite people to engage in Jewish themes,” says Rebecca Guber, director of Asylum Arts. [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature Darren Aronofsky Adds Psychological Depth, Little Else to ‘Noah’

    Darren Aronofsky Adds Psychological Depth, Little Else to ‘Noah’

    JNS.org – Has the era of large-scale biblical epics returned? Not since “The Ten Commandments” has there been so much torrential water on the big screen (not counting weather-related disaster films such as “The Impossible”) than in “Noah,” the latest blockbuster from writer and director Darren Aronofsky. “Noah” takes the traditional tale and splices it in an eco-friendly and psychologically driven plot. After Adam and Eve got booted out of the Garden of Eden and after Cain killed Abel, mankind [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.