Erdogan’s Mighty Hypocrisy Towards Israel Is Surpassed Only by His Repressive Islamist Agenda
On Sunday afternoon, as residents of southern Israel were enjoying the last days of summer before the start of the school year, a Qassam rocket struck a yard in Sderot. Miraculously, nobody was hurt.
Though the attack was not perpetrated by Hamas specifically, Israel made good on its oft-repeated promise to hold the organization that rules the Gaza Strip responsible for any terrorist activity aimed at the Jewish state from its territory.
This was among the first tests put to Israel’s new defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who recently announced the implementation of a “carrot-and-stick” policy toward the Palestinians.
Lieberman did not disappoint. Throughout Sunday night, the IDF bombarded terrorist targets in Gaza. It was, according to Israeli families living near the border, the largest military sortie since Operation Protective Edge two years ago.
The terrorist attack and retaliation took place two days after the Turkish parliament ratified the rapprochement agreement with Israel reached in June. Six years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Hamas loyalist, sparked the diplomatic schism that ostensibly is being overturned now.
Yet, even as Jerusalem and Ankara began to prepare for the exchange of ambassadors, Erdogan’s Foreign Ministry ripped into Israel, “strongly condemning” its “disproportionate attacks, unacceptable whatever prompted them.”
“The normalization of our country’s relations with Israel does not mean we will stay silent in the face of such attacks against the Palestinian people,” its statement read.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry shot back. “The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations,” it stated. “Israel will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law and our conscience. Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others.”
This was an allusion, among other things, to Erdogan’s vicious crackdown on anyone in the country suspected of taking part in — or even privately supporting — the attempted coup on July 15 against his reign of terror.
As if to prove that he never “thinks twice” before engaging in hypocrisy and brutality, Erdogan launched a full-fledged military operation in the town of Jarablus, along the Turkey-Syria border, on Wednesday, three days after his government lashed out at Israel for responding to the rocket attack from Gaza.
With jets and tanks, Turkey stormed the villages surrounding Jarablus, and then moved on to the city itself. The purpose of the operation, code-named “Euphrates Shield,” was to wrest the area from Islamic State terrorists and Syria-based Kurdish militias affiliated with insurgents in Turkey. That the Kurds are also fighting Islamic State, and have been receiving US aid to do so, is of no interest to Erdogan. As far as he is concerned, they — with the help of self-exiled Pennsylvania-based cleric Muhammed Fethullah Gulen — are a threat to his continued rule over what used to be a democratic country. Indeed, targeting the Kurds is of far greater urgency to him than retaliating against the perpetrators of the suicide-bombing at a Kurdish wedding celebration in Gaziantep on Saturday night.
To add a pathetic twist to the tale, a few hours after the Turkish military operation began, US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ankara to apologize to Erdogan for not having come sooner to congratulate him for thwarting the coup and remaining in power. Biden also vowed that America would examine the justification for giving in to Erdogan’s demand that Gulen be extradited to Turkey for “trial” (aka imprisonment, torture and painful death).
The following day, on Thursday, additional Turkish tanks swept across the border to push back the Kurds and Islamic State terrorists.
Worthy of note here is that the decision to launch Euphrates Shield was made at an emergency meeting in Istanbul on Saturday, hours before 54 people were slaughtered at the Kurdish wedding party — and more than a full day before Israel hit back at Gaza terrorists. Indeed, Erdogan’s nerve in relation to Israel is surpassed only by his Islamist agenda and willingness to repress, suppress and eliminate any challenge to his self-appointed throne. This is nothing new, but it has become much more obvious lately, as all the soldiers, police, politicians, professors and members of the media whom he has arrested over the past few weeks can attest.
It is thus peculiar that Turkey is nowhere to be found on the list of places — which includes Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Iran — recently designated as dangerous in State Department warnings to US citizens abroad.
Nevertheless, travelers have begun taking it upon themselves to avoid Istanbul’s airports.
Israelis used to travel to Turkey en masse during summer, due to the low cost of family vacations and conveniently short travel time. When the hostility of the Erdogan government towards the Jewish state became too palpable for comfort, this literal and figurative holiday ground to a halt.
Let Erdogan’s continued behavior serve to keep us from being tempted to resume trips to Turkey. Indeed, a “reconciliation deal” with the devil is anything but a vacation package.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.