Turkey’s President Erdogan called Israel a terrorist state and Bibi Netanyahu a terrorist after the incident along the Gaza-Israel border that saw Israeli snipers kill a number of violent Palestinian protestors as well as injuring over a 1000 more. The protests, a creation of Hamas, were meant to crash through the security fence between Gaza and Israel. The deaths of some of the more violent protestors has caused an uproar across the Arab world.
“I strongly condemn the Israeli government over its inhumane attack,” Erdogan said of Friday’s incidents along the Gaza border. “Have you heard any noteworthy objections to the massacre by Israel that happened yesterday in Gaza from those who criticize the Afrin operation? This is the biggest proof of insincerity of those who fixate on us but say nothing about Israel using heavy weapons to attack people who are protesting on their own lands.”
Bibi Netanyahu responded:
“Erdogan is not used to people responding to him, but he should start getting used to it. Anyone who occupies northern Cyprus, invades the Kurdish strip and slaughters citizens in Afrin, should not lecture us about values and ethics.”
This war of words holds significance. With Turkey’s claim that Israel is a terrorist state, Erdogan is seemingly using the same rhetoric to justify his invasion of Afrin. Afterall, for Erdogan, all Kurds are terrorists. Now Israel too has become a terrorist state, worthy of invasion. Of course, Turkey is not invading Israel tomorrow, but it is attemtping to undermine it every chance it gets.
Bibi’s statement about Cyprus and Afrin is not just some empty phrase, but rather a statement of great magnitude. Netanyahu has now become the first leader to point out in clear terms what Erdogan’s actions in Afrin really are…genocide.
The continuing realignment in the Middle East has begun to create chaos with a number of actors scrambling to pick sides. Donald Trump has clearly decided to pull the USA out of the mess, but that has only created more of a mess. Bibi’s statement about the Kurds and Cyprus is a hint of the role that Israel appears ready and willing to take on. This of course pits the Jewish state on a collision course with Turkey who has delusions of returning to the golden age of the Ottoman Empire.
True leadership is far more about standing up for the truth than conquering distant lands. Turkey has for far too long gotten away with brutally suppressing indigenous minorities under the guise of anti-terror operations. Erdogan may believe he can bring Turkey back to its former glory, but Israel is not the same Israel and the Jews who were both poor and unorganized when living under Turkish rule have now in the most miraculous ways returned to their ancient homeland to create one of the most successful nations in the world.
The future of the Middle East is dependent on Israel reestablishing itself as the compass and leader of the region. Bibi’s reaction to Erdogan is a hopeful first step to making this happen.