Turkish PM Erdogan
Photo: AFP
Smadar Perry

It's all personal

Op-ed: PM Erdogan's venomous verbal attacks on Israel do not reflect Turkish people's opinion of Israel

Over the weekend US Secretary of State John Kerry was late for a dinner at the residence of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The translator said Kerry was late because of an intense conversation he had with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu. Erdogan cynically noted that in light of the meeting between his foreign minister and Kerry, there was nothing left to talk about. He hoped this would save him from a lecture on his recent verbal attack against Israel.


There is something annoying and enraging about the fact that Erdogan does not pass up on any opportunity to attack us. In the latest round, he told a press conference in Vienna that Islamophobia must be recognized as a crime against humanity in the same fashion that Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism should be. He also called Zionism a "crime against humanity." This is enraging because his anti-Israel rhetoric is getting nastier, and it is annoying because it seems that this affair has become personal. A kind of bad scent that does not identify with what the Turkish street thinks about us.


But when PM Erdogan keeps attacking the same target, he is conveying a clear, transparent message. Ever since Erdogan took office 10 years ago, Turkey, which adopted the "zero problems with neighbors" policy, has been on a path of minimizing relations. Erdogan is doing one thing right: Every time he attacks us, his stock as the king of the Arab street soars.


The absurd part is that unlike the Islamist regime in Egypt, nearly all of the doors are open for Turkey. No one will prevent Israelis from doing business in Turkey and eating at Istanbul's restaurants. On the contrary, people are saying that the volume of business has increased, despite Erdogan.


Turkish members of the academia, physicians and journalists do not need special permits and do not keep their visits to Israel secret. They offer embarrassing explanations and apologize for the negative wind blowing out of Ankara and for Erdogan and Davutoglu's constant attempts to settle personal scores.


After the latest verbal attack, it is hard to imagine that anyone in Israel still believes the relations with Turkey can be improved while Erdogan is still in office.


Victim of bloody civil war

Meanwhile, as part of his campaign to oust Syrian President Assad, the Turkish premier has also complained about the US' conduct. A conspiracy theory propagated by senior Turkish officials insists that the government in Washington wants to keep Assad in power. They claim the US is refraining from transferring weapons to Syrian rebels due to Israeli claims that a weak Assad in power is preferable to having the chemical weapons stockpiles fall into the hands of terror organizations and extremist Islamist gangs.


King Abdullah of Jordan is due to arrive in Turkey on Tuesday in order to coordinate positions on the Syrian crisis. Jordan is the undisputed victim of the bloody civil war, as the massive flow of Syrian refugees into the Hashemite Kingdom is dangerous and is draining its resources.


Erdogan is aware of Jordan's economic woes, and Turkey can offer water, as well as favorable terms for importers and exporters.


Some of the issues, such as the Palestinian issue, will be discussed in front of the cameras. But behind closed doors discreet issues will be discussed and intelligence information will be exchanged. Erdogan will explain to King Abdullah why he should not improve the relations with Israel.


However, despite the venomous attacks, it is only logical that at some point Erdogan's "it's all personal" policy will erased and, all at once, Israel and Turkey will become closer.



פרסום ראשון: 03.03.13, 20:41
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