Holy Terror, Turkish Delight
Leave it to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to portray his latest grab for regional relevance and power as a diplomatic effort to resolve a political-religious crisis in Jerusalem, inflamed by last week’s shooting attack on the Temple Mount.
The attack, which killed two Israeli Druze policemen, was committed by three Israeli Arabs. Nevertheless, it served as yet another excuse for Palestinians to stage days of rage against Israel.
The ostensible reason for the violent uprising is the placement of metal detectors at the entrance to Judaism’s holiest site — where only Muslims are allowed to pray — as a way of preventing additional bloodshed. On Thursday, while the Israeli government scrambled to placate the Jordanian Waqf, the custodians of the site, and the leaders of Fatah and Hamas by mulling a removal of the scanners, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that he is concerned not only about the infiltration of Arab terrorists, but of Jewish ones seeking revenge, as well. Yeah, right.
Never mind that metal detectors are a way of life in Israel, forcing anyone who rides an intercity bus or enters a government building to have to go through them. What is par for the course for the rest of us simply does not fly with mobs on the ready to riot against any Israeli action, including one aimed at protecting innocent Muslims.
This is not the only truth that is being drowned out by the shouts of “Allahu akbar” wafting through the streets of east Jerusalem. Another is the response of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which criticized the terrorist attack by denouncing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for “exploiting the operation to escalate its vicious incitement against our Arab masses.”
Meanwhile, the press has focused more on the “man bites dog” story of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calling Netanyahu to condemn the attack. Of course, he did so by warning the Israeli leader not to take any security measures on the Temple Mount, the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque. He then appealed to Erdogan to intervene to “calm tensions” — a euphemism for making sure that Israel appears evil in the eyes of the international community, even as it engages in appeasement.
As a major beneficiary of Israeli appeasement, Erdogan has experience in how to get the Jewish state to treat him with deference — in spite of his having said last December at a conference in Ankara that Israel’s “policies of oppression, deportation and discrimination have been increasingly continuing against our Palestinian brothers since 1948.” Still, Erdogan knows that Netanyahu is peeved about that declaration, which deems Israel’s establishment as illegitimate.
He is also aware of the ire he aroused when, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 a few days earlier, he said, “I don’t agree with what Hitler did and I also don’t agree with what Israel did in Gaza. Therefore there’s no place for comparison in order to say what’s more barbaric.”
It is thus that Erdogan responded to Abbas’ request for help by turning to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. In a phone call Thursday evening, Erdogan urged Rivlin to remove the metal detectors from the entrance to the Temple Mount. Rivlin delicately asked that the Turkish president condemn the terrorist attack — just as Israel did in the wake of last year’s terrorist attacks in Turkey — and acknowledge that terrorism is terrorism, whether it takes place in Istanbul or Jerusalem.
Fat chance of that. After all, a mere two months ago, Erdogan, an avid supporter of Hamas, called on Muslims to swarm Al-Aqsa Mosque, as “each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”
This is a milder version of what Abbas famously said in September 2015: “Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so, and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.”
It is bad enough that Israel is going through the pointless process of working with Abbas to quell an onslaught that he himself has been instigating. But adding Erdogan to the Temple Mount mix beggars all belief.
Ruthie Blum is an editor at the Gatestone Institute.
This piece was first published in Israel Hayom.