Turk beseeches Erdoğan to reject Hamas propaganda
A senior official at Turkish Airlines' Israeli office 30 years ago publishes open letter to Erdoğan inviting him to visit Israeli Arab cities and 'discover who true terrorists are'; like Kurdish insurgents, Öcal says Hamas terrorists use women, children as human shields; 'Jews never betrayed Turkey, but Palestinians have.'
While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan increased his public hostility toward Israel, calling it a "terror and apartheid state," a Turkish national wrote an open appeal to his country's leader, calling on him to stop using Israel as a political battering ram and to reject the Hamas terror group's false propaganda.
The man, İsmail Günal Öcal, was a senior official at Turkish Airlines' Israeli office some 30 years ago.
Öcal, 70, opened his Facebook appeal by saying Erdoğan was a "gentleman, a Turkish and Muslim person. I'm 70, and fear no one but God. I propose for you to visit Israel as a tourist for five days. Don't be scared, they won't assassinate you."
The Turk's appeal came following a tumultuous week and a half on Israel's Gaza frontier, with the "March of Return" border protests culminating on Nakba Day and 61 Palestinian casualties in a single day.
The Turkish president, meanwhile, leveled serious accusations at Israel and went so far as to expel the Israeli ambassador from Turkey, who then underwent a meticulous and humiliating physical search at Istanbul's international airport that included him taking off his shoes.
Consequently, the highest ranking Turkish diplomat remaining in Israel, Umut Deniz, was then called in to be reprimanded at Jerusalem's Foreign Affairs Ministry. The following day, Erdoğan compared Israel's actions with those of the Nazis and pledged to reconsider continued bilateral economic relations after the upcoming elections.
In his appeal to the president, Öcal also recommended to Erdoğan to visit Arab communities in Israel and the territories, including Sakhnin, Umm al-Fahm, Arraba, Yatta, Jaffa and Gaza and discover who the true terrorists are.
He further maintained that Hamas, which rules the isolated enclave of Gaza, used tactics reminiscent of the communist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey has designated as a terror group and waged a years' long campaign against, by using innocent people—including women and children—as human shields.
Öcal also beseeched Erdoğan to reject Hamas's propaganda, and noted that 43 of the 61 people killed in Gaza were Hamas terrorists (an official from the terror group admitted to an even higher number—ed).
Erdoğan's 36 advisors, the Turk added, were not telling him the truth about Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran. "They are not friends of Turkey. The Jews have never betrayed Turkey, but the Palestinians have."
Finally, Öcal called on his president to stop employing his belligerent rhetoric against the Jews and Israel, and to try and call in the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians for peace talks. "It'll win you a Nobel Prize," Öcal promised.
"When you're saying Israel is a terror state that kills children, you're propagating a falsehood. Israel is defending its borders from Hamas's Palestinian terrorists. Please, think logically. I've lived in Tel Aviv for five years. I skirted death on two occasions. A lot of people were wounded and killed by Hamas's terrorist attacks against innocent people," Öcal concluded.
Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, an academic specializing in Turkey at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, explained that Erdoğan's statements were mostly calibrated towards Turkey's impending general elections.
"Right up to the elections, he is looking to send a message of, 'We heard Israel's agriculture minister. They don't want to import agricultural products from us.' So naturally Erdoğan as a personality has to retort, by telling the Turkish people that will be discussed after the elections," he said.
"Once economic relations are severed, Turkey will be shooting itself in the foot and (Erdoğan) is aware of that. The economic situation in Turkey is not great as it is, so I don't think that will come to pass," he opined.
Similarly, the oft-repeated threats by Israeli officials to recognize the Armenian genocide was aimed at achieving the same purpose, Cohen Yanarocak claimed. "The two governments are attempting to garner more support from their publics by verbal attacks on the other side, which is a shame because it poisons our friendship," he lamented.
While Erdoğan was "all-powerful" in Turkey, Cohen Yanarocak said he still had advisers, who in most cases told him what he wanted to hear.