Guest article by Crethi Plethi, a blog that covers in-depth information on Israel,Â Middle East Affairs and Islam.Â I chose to feature thisÂ post because it has Â significant implications for Israel, the West and all people who dream of one day living in a free and democratic society.
In the aftermath of the Gaza war, the friendship between Turkey and Israel is declining more and more. It seems that Turkey, under the influence of Erdogan’s Islamic Party (AK), has made the choice to join her Islamic allies. This implies also that Turkey is turning away from Western democracies and its Western values, while still pressing for membership with the European Union. What it really means is that the European Union is subverting into a leftist-Islamic Union, where Turkey almost feels at home with its left-Islamic values and anti-Israel bias. While Erdogan and his party (AK) is praised by western leaders as an example for moderate Islam in a modern Turkey, the reality is that Erdogan himself objects to the phrases â€œmoderate Islamâ€ or â€œmoderate Muslim.â€ (Here and here). â€œThere’s only Islam,â€ he says.
This is no surprise, because Turkey has a long Islamic tradition and the Ottoman Empire ruled over what was all of North Africa, Middle East, Persia and Europe to the gates of Vienna for more than 400 years. Let us not forget that Turkey once was part of the great Byzantine Christian Empire with Constantinople as its capital. After the fall of the city, Sultan Mehmet turned the Hagia Sofia, at that time the largest cathedral in the world, into a Mosque. Yet it’s of much significance that Turkey’s political change is happening now, because Israel has lost an ally in the Islamic world, while Israel already has virtually no allies at all in the Middle East. Partly because Egypt (another fragile basis of friendship) criticizes Israel even more openly, despite the peace treaty President Sadat (assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1981) signed with Israel in 1979. The same goes for Jordan. When the cards are down they both will line up with their â€œMuslim friendsâ€ in order to get a piece of the cake (that is, Israel). And so is Turkey.
Simultaneously with the estrangement between Turkey and Israel, the Turks seek rapprochement with Ahmadinejad of Iran, who openly calls for a new Holocaust. Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are. At the same time, Turkey deepens its ties with Syria, opens the border between the two countries and trains Lebanon’s Special Forces. Lebanon, who cannot be trusted, as long as Hezbollah continues to play a major role in Israel’s northern neighbor’s politics and military.
Let us not forget that Turkey is playing a hypocritical game. It condemned Israel for its Gaza War, while Turkey would never accept that their territory would be rocketed for years with thousands of missiles from a hostile territory, and not show any military response. See how Turkey responds to the Kurdish PKK fighters with military reprisals even into Iraqi Kurdistan. Right or wrong, it denied the Kurds the right to have a homeland. They are called terrorists by Turkey, but is it not true that Kurdistan has been (in various forms) an independent country and is it not a fact that the Kurds, over the centuries, had to deal with censorship and repression of their culture and their language? Is history, culture and language of a people not a basis for a homeland in their own country? (see Flags of Kurdistan). Turkey also commonly forgets that they themselves created a holocaust by killing between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians during (and after) World War I. And what is there to say about the Kurdish civilian casualties through the ages until now? How difficult this is for Turkey is shown by the fact that Turkey has never acknowledged the fact that they committed war crimes against the Armenian people and their denial of the Kurds rights to have a homeland. This is also a stumbling block for membership in the European Union. And what about Cyprus? When will Turkey get out of Cyprus and leave the Cypriot people to rule their own country again? As a minority (Kurd, Armenian, Greek, Christian or Jew) in Turkey you had better watch your step. No, Israel is bettter as a common enemy than a distant friend, Erdogan must have thought. This makes him a showcase in the Muslim world and opens the doors to strengthen the (economic) ties with his Islamic Allies.
This whole controversy since the Gaza war was further fueled by two Turkish TV soaps about the Gaza war and about the so-called Israeli ‘occupation’. In these TV series, Israel and the Israeli army are described as brutal and ruthless occupiers. Israeli soldiers shoot babies and children in many scenes. What effect this has on Turkish public opinion goes without saying, but even apart from the bias and lies, these images are very indoctrinating and insulting for Israel as well. There is much to do about the Israeli action during the Gaza war, but the role of Hamas remains silent, even in the Goldstone Report of the UN. I think there is one important point neglected in the whole discussion about Operation Cast Lead: â€œThe nature of the Israeli soldier.â€
Israel is still a young state (founded in 1948) and consists mainly of Jewish immigrants from all parts of the world. The Arab residents of Israel live in the most democratic country in the Middle East. As for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the situation is different because of the bias of the Palestinian Authority and the terrorism of Hamas and other Islamic groups. This war is being waged by Islamic fundamentalists, and the terrorist networks in these areas keep their grip on the situation and aim at destruction of the Israeli State. Note that this is not only directed towards Jews, but also against Palestinian Christians, moderate Palestinians, other Muslim groups and the Fatah party of Abbas.
However, the thinking and actions of the Israeli soldier is fundamentally different from their Muslim counterparts and or terrorists. See how the Basiji (a paramilitary movement in Iran) have helped President Ahmadinejad to stifle Democratic calls for freedom. The proof is clear: demonstrators were beaten up by Basiji thugs, young men and women were arrested and raped in prison, many were killed. Arrested demonstrators were sentenced to death. Only by violence in the name of Islam could Ahmadinejad break the democratic opposition.
Have you heard Turkey cry out in favor of the reformists? Compare that with Israel and its military supremacy in the region. If Israel really had a genocidal character (as many Palestine supporters claim these days in compairing Israel with Nazi Germany), than they already would have put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Instead, Israel wants peace, but not at the cost of their own existence. Meanwhile Hamas, if they had the same military status and capability as Israel, would have attacked and killed, slaughtered, murdered, and raped all the Jews in Israel years ago. Israel â€œJudenfreiâ€. The difference between Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and Israel is obvious.
The Arab culture is steeped in Islam. It is more than just a religion, it controls every aspect of daily life as well as politics. Many of the so-called â€œmoderate Muslimsâ€ residing in the Netherlands (or Europe) would be killed in Arab countries just as Jews would be killed, if they would express their freedoms the same way as enjoyed in western societies or speak out against Islam. While they are able to call Islam a â€œreligion of peaceâ€ in the Netherlands, they would be killed by the Basiji, by Hamas, by Hezbollah as apostates if they demanded more freedom and rights for women, homosexuals or opposed Islam. We know how it fares with the rights of minorities (including Jews and Christians), women and children, of moderate Muslims, homosexuals, Sunnis in Shiite countries (Iran) and Shiites in the Sunni countries (Iraq). The modern Muslim in the Netherlands could not live in the Arab world under the Hamas, Hezbollah or strict Islamic law in Saudi Arabia or Taliban without adjusting to Shari’a law and Islamism. What weight gives this knowledge than to their words: â€œIslam is a religion of peace.â€ If there are no Jews or Christians (or Western troops) to be killed, they kill each other instead as apostates or ‘enemies of Islam.’
But not so the Israeli soldier. He thinks like a random Dutch, British or American soldier. He is educated in International Law and keeps in mind to the best of his capability, while entering a war zone, the Geneva Convention. Every Israeli soldier has also been educated in the IDF’s own traditional ethical code â€“ ruach tzahal, â€œthe spirit of the IDF.â€ (You can download a copy here). The vast majority of Jewish people in Israel have a different picture about the value of human life than the vast majority of Muslims in the (Arab) Islamic world. The former Jewish immigrants (from the Western democracies) have taken many of the values with them, based on Judeo-Christian values, into Israel. Hamas thinks, acts and fights based on their Islamic traditions and beliefs, based on the Quran, the Prophet and Islam. (Read Hamas’s Charter.) We all know where this kind of religious fanaticism leads; human life does not count and even their own children are sacrificed in the name of Allah.
Hence, the genuine outrage of the Israeli government about the series on Turkish television insinuating that the Israeli soldiers are deliberate murderers of Palestinian children. Israel exercised more restraint in their attacks on Hamas militants in the Gaza war then ever experienced in the West. Israel takes the official position to stand by the Geneva Convention, also in contrast with Hamas. But Israel not only has to deal with an enemy like Hamas, who deliberately fights and launches rocket attacks from civilian areas, and uses children as shields if necessary. Israel also has to deal with the hate campaign in the Western world and the United Nations, who ignores the difficult position in which Israel finds itself. And that’s now also the case with Turkey. In showing their true face, they are no friends of Israel anymore. There’s more behind it than we think.
This is the real Turkey, Erdogan’s Turkey, an Islamic Turkey. This is the revival of the Islamic â€œOttoman Empireâ€, who were responsible for the downfall of the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople and the Islamic conquest of eastern-Europe. Despite all efforts, however modern and secular Turkish people may want to be, its Islamic background and Erdogan’s Islamization of Turkish society and politics drives her away from the values of the European Union and Israel. Turkey as a secular state is about to end. For many Turks, this is a bad dream as well.