Under Islamic law (“Shariah”), non-Muslims (such as Christians and Jews) are mostly free to practice their religion in private but are discriminated and treated as second-class citizens, or dhimmis. As the Quran clearly states, non-Muslims must “feel themselves subdued” (Sura 9:29). When the Jews regained their independence in 1948, they not only rebelled against “dhimmitude.” They also regained and freed, like the Spaniards after the Reconquista, a land once ruled by Islam. To Muslims, this was -and still is- a double offence.
Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan has taken upon himself to make Israel a “dhimmi state.” Edorgan was raised as a Sufi Muslim and was imprisoned in 1998 for singing out loud that "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.” While mainstream Western media are at pains to describe Turkey’s Islamist AKP Party as “moderate,” Erdogan himself declared on Kanal D TV in August 2007 that describing Islam as moderate “is offensive and an insult to our religion.” Erdogan has been embracing the presidents of Iran and Sudan. While Sudan’s president is accused of genocide by the International Criminal Court, and while Turkey has been asked to apologize for the Armenian genocide, Erdogan has declared that “No Muslim can perpetuate genocide.”
Erdogan comes from an anti-Jewish tradition. His political mentor Necmettin Erbakan was an anti-Semite. As soon as he became Prime Minister in 2003, Ergodan adopted a hostile policy toward Israel. In March 2004, Erdogan called Israel a “terrorist state” following the elimination of Ahmad Yassin. In February 2006, he received Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Ankara. In January 2009, he publicly humiliated Shimon Peres at the Davos conference. In October 2009, the Turkish state television started airing fiction series showing Israeli soldiers intentionally murdering Palestinian children. In November 2009, Erdogan declared that he’d rather meet Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In March 2010, Erdogan claimed that the Temple Mount, Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem were never Jewish sites.
While Erdogan’s hatred of Israel is authentic, his public outbursts at Israel are opportunistic. Those outbursts are the easiest way for him to be acclaimed as a hero by Islamists both in Turkey and around the world. The Israeli government made the right decision by refusing to behave as a “dhimmi state.” The attitude of the Obama Administration, by contrast, is irresponsible and scandalous. Instead of making Erdogan pay the price for his foreign policy choices, the Obama Administration has been hopelessly trying to appease him.
Erdogan is ultimately responsible for the death of his co-citizens aboard the “Mavi Marmara.” He is the one who sent out the jihadist organization Insani Yardim Vakfi (or IHH) to militarize Gaza and arm Hamas. Yet, President Obama called Erdogan after the Marmara incident to express “his deep condolences for the loss of life and injuries resulting from the Israeli military operation.” The Palmer Report recently released by the UN (an organization not known for its pro-Israel bias) says unambiguously that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was legal, that Turkey should have done more to stop the flotilla, and that Israeli soldiers were brutally attacked and had to use force in self-defense. And yet the Obama Administration is still asking Israel to apologize instead of scolding Turkey for its troublemaking.
Rather than stopping Erdogan from bullying Israel and from destabilizing the Middle East with his irresponsible policies, the Obama Administration has adopted an appeasing stance, which in turn is encouraging Erdogan who is now threatening to go to war in order to lift the siege of Gaza.
It is precisely because the Obama Administration has opted for appeasement that Israel must show steadfastness. As Churchill has said, an appeaser is someone who feeds the crocodile hoping he will be eaten last. Israel cannot afford to play that game. But steadfastness is not enough. Israel should go on the offensive by exposing Erdogan’s hypocrisy to the world.
Doing so is no rocket science. While scolding Assad for shooting at Syrian demonstrators, Erdogan ordered last month air strikes in Kurdistan, killing over 100 Kurds. While saying that Israel should accept the establishment of a Palestinian state, Erdogan is adamant not to allow an independent Kurdish state to emerge. While Erdogan urges Israel to negotiate with Hamas, he himself recently declared that Turkey “considers it a disgrace to sit down at the negotiating table with [the Greek Cypriots] at the United Nations” as Turkey just celebrated its 37 year-old occupation of Cyprus. And in 2006, after obtaining Syria’s capitulation to Turkey’s occupation and annexation of the Alexandretta Province, Erdogan offered Israel to broker a peace deal with Syria based on Israeli, not Syrian, capitulation over the Golan.
While Erdogan must be made to understand that Jews are no longer dhimmis, we Israelis have to realize that the end of dhimmitude does not only mean the end of humiliation. It also provides the ability, and perhaps even the duty, to make our enemies get a taste of their own medicine.