(May 23, 2018 / Israel Hayom) The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency has handed out about $420,000 in $500 checks to eastern Jerusalem merchants and residents in recent days as a gift for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Israel Hayom discovered on Monday.
The move exacerbates already tense relations between Israel and Turkey, which on Friday called for Israel to be tried at the International Criminal Court for its use of force to deter violent weekly demonstrations along the Gaza border.
TIKA is an agency within the Turkish government.
In addition to the money, TIKA, which takes pride in its involvement in Jerusalem, also handed out Turkish flags with the name of the organization printed on them. After taking the handout, some eastern Jerusalem store owners hung the flags at the entrances to their businesses.
This comes at a time when Turkey, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is waging a campaign to defame Israel at every opportunity.
The agency’s activities in Jerusalem are part of the dawah, an Islamic concept that means “calling,” specifically to Islam. Activities that fall under the dawah include preaching, proselytizing and other forms of “silent” jihad.
Islamic charity, aid, social-work and education groups use the idea of dawah in their work to win over hearts and instill Islamist values. In turn, the beneficiaries of these activities are encouraged to support the groups’ goals. In the case of TIKA, which funds countless civil projects internationally, it appears that the objective of the money handouts is to drum up support for Turkey’s positions among the city’s Muslim population.
TIKA’s active involvement in east Jerusalem has elicited criticism in Israel, with officials demanding an immediate halt to the flow of Turkish cash.
Maor Tzemach, who heads the Lach Yerushalayim organization that promotes Israeli sovereignty over all parts of Jerusalem, told Israel Hayom on Monday that his group is “monitoring Turkish activity in east[ern] Jerusalem, and we’ve identified TIKA as promoting Turkey’s radical views in Jerusalem. This organization pours millions of shekels into social activism, interfering in and undercutting Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.”
“Now is the time to define clear-cut limits to Turkish involvement in Jerusalem,” he said. “I’m calling to block the flow of Turkish money to Jerusalem through these organizations and wage all-out war against Turkish interference in the capital.”
Last week, Erdoğan attacked Israel on several occasions for its conduct against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, accusing Israel of committing “genocide.”
The condemnation reached a new low on Friday during a summit of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, where Erdoğan remarked that “the children of those who were subjected to all sorts of torture in concentration camps during World War II are now attacking Palestinians with methods that would put Nazis to shame.”
On Monday, Erdoğan reportedly extended an invitation to all foreign ambassadors in Turkey, with the exception of Israel’s, to break the Ramadan fast in a feast at the ruling party’s headquarters.