After over 50 years of Israeli-Turkish intelligence cooperation and sharing, the Turkish disclosure to Iran of the identities of Mossad operatives -- who were, apparently, subsequently executed -- illustrates the depths to which Israel-Turkey relations have descended under Islamist autocrat Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan seeks to conceal his true intentions and convey the illusion that he is himself a role model for an enlightened Islam that blends with democracy.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Erdogan is a fanatical Islamist and a vile bigot who lavishes praise on the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah, and whose behavior is more reminiscent of an Ottoman sultan than a democratically elected leader.
Erdogan has employed Islamist demagoguery to win three elections and has exploited his power and position to intimidate the media and destroy the opposition. He has purged the army of its secular officers through primitive show trials and brutally repressed freedom of speech. Today, there are more imprisoned journalists in Turkey than in Communist China and perhaps any other country in the world.
Erdogan's brutal response to environmentalist protesters against the redeveloping of Gezi Park in central Istanbul a few months ago, injuring over 4,000 peaceful demonstrators, exemplified his authoritarianism and brutality. Der Spiegel quotes Turkish human rights organizations attesting that he subsequently engaged in a campaign to punish journalists, teachers and other activists involved in the protests, arresting at least 3,000 people, including children.
Since his demagogic outburst against President Shimon Peres in Davos live on TV in January 2009, followed by his dramatic storming out of the meeting, Erdogan's attitude toward Israel has dramatically deteriorated. He shamelessly allies himself with the genocidal Hamas and refers to Israel as a "terrorist state" which "massacres children" and "knows well how to kill." Only a few weeks ago, Erdogan hosted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Turkey for the third time in 12 months.
Clearly, he reached the conclusion that as a major global Israel basher, he reaps dividends amongst the Arab masses and furthers his dream of becoming head of a new Ottoman Sunni empire.
Erdogan's anti-Zionism is a natural extension of his anti-Semitism. As far back as 1974, he directed and played a leading role in a play titled "Maskomya," based on the evil global influence of Jews, Communists and Freemasons. As mayor of Istanbul in 1998, he said, "Today the image of the Jews is no different from that of the Nazis." In 2006, he endorsed the popular virulent anti-Semitic film "Valley of the Wolves," about an American Jew who trades in body parts. He blamed the Gezi Park environmental protest on the "interest rate lobby," the "dual loyalists" and the "rootless cosmopolitans," clear references to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." His deputy explicitly attributed the blame for the riots on the Jewish Diaspora.
Erdogan has made outrageous statements in international circles. At a U.N. conference in Vienna in February, Erdogan stated, "Just like Zionism and fascism, Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity."
Only a few weeks ago he blamed Israel for the upheavals in Egypt, saying, "What is said about Egypt? That democracy is not about the box. Who was behind this? Israel is. We have evidence in our hands." When subsequently pressed to substantiate this xenophobic outburst, all he could do was quote the French Jewish philosopher Bernard Henri Levy, not an Israeli, who had made negative references to the Muslim Brotherhood in 2001.
One of Erdogan's favorite remarks is "there is no Islamic terror." He also publicly undermines American efforts to boycott Iran and continues to provide Tehran with reliable trade outlets. Nonetheless, the U.S. still considers Turkey a principal ally with which it shares "bonds of trust."
In June 2012, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu launched "The Global Terrorism Forum," a counter-terrorism organization comprising 30 founding members, from which Israel was notably excluded. In September 2013, the US and Turkey expanded this organization by creating a $200 million joint venture fund, "The Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience," purportedly to combat extremist ideologies among young people in the Muslim world. American taxpayers are footing the bill for this exercise, organized by an Islamist leadership that endorses Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and has shamelessly hosted former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President Omer Hassan al Bashir, the genocidal leader of Sudan charged with war crimes.
The surreal nature of Turkish influence is best exemplified by the ongoing story of the Mavi Marmara flotillas that sought to break Israel's weapons embargo on Gaza in May 2010. Following the international incident, Erdogan demanded that Israel issue an unequivocal apology for the death of nine Turkish protesters associated with al-Qaida who were aboard the boat. When Israel acted in accordance with the ruling of an independent U.N. inquiry that found that it need not apologize for the loss of lives, Erdogan recalled his ambassador, orchestrated show trials against Israel Defense Forces personnel, and sought to exclude Israel's involvement with global organizations, including NATO - this, from a leader who has never acknowledged his country's massacre of one-and-a-half million Armenians in World War I.
Following his visit to Israel in March 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama allegedly pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize and pay compensation to the Turkish terrorists' families. Despite bitter condemnation in Israel, Netanyahu complied in order to restore relations with Turkey so that Israel and Turkey could cooperate on issues emerging in Syria. Erdogan agreed to cooperate with Israel at all levels.
But, unsurprisingly, the Turkish prime minister has failed to adhere to his commitment. Immediately after Israel issued its apology, Erdogan announced his intention to visit Gaza, and demanded that Israel lift its maritime blockade against Hamas. Six months later, Erdogan still has not restored diplomatic relations nor suspended the show trials of senior Israeli officials. The Greek ambassador to Israel informed the Jerusalem Post that Turkey was still continuing to block Israel's participation in NATO. This month, Turkish President Abdullah Gul stated that Israel had extended its apology "too late."
In the light of this, it is disappointing that Obama continues to praise Erdogan as a "moderate Islamist" who "has shown great leadership," ignoring the fact that he has effectively breached and violated all the undertakings brokered by him in relation to Israel and continues to seek to actively undermine efforts to impose sanctions on Iran. Not to mention that only a few weeks ago Erdogan announced a "strategic partnership" with China.
The reality is that while the inveterate anti-Semite Erdogan has his way, he will veto any efforts to improve relationships with Israel, despite the major strategic and economic benefits that would accrue to both countries.
Thus, even if the U.S. clings to the fantasy that Turkey represents a moderate, democratically influenced form of Islam, we should not delude ourselves. Erdogan is running an anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli regime that supports Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. As long as he remains in power, Israel-Turkish relations will remain cold at best.
Isi Leibler's website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org