The “tourists” that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoganstarted sending to Jerusalem a few years back so they could “reoccupy Al-Aqsa” have in recent months been tearing historical maps that document the Armenian genocide down from the walls of the Armenian Patriarchate. The spirit of their leader, Erdogan, who even now refuses to recognize that Turkey was responsible for the Armenian genocide, is alive and well among them.
However, Erdogan’s megalomaniacal dreams are pulling him toward other things that happened in that same period, the final days of the Ottoman Empire and its dynasty of sultans. He is laying down plans for an Islamic caliphate and now, by recalling Turkey’s ambassadors to Washington and Jerusalem, wants to send a signal to the world that he is the leader and protector of Jerusalem.
On his way to the Turkish election on June 24, and his imaginary way to Jerusalem, anything goes – even the blood libels he spins against Israel, although only recently he slaughtered Kurds in Afrin, Syria.
Israel must not ignore the ridiculous statements from the Turkish president, bizarre though they might be, because many people in the Muslim street buy what he says. Erdogan’s part in the Palestinian “march of return” and Hamas terrorism are certainly relevant for Israeli public diplomacy, like the details about how he provides Hamas with a haven abroad in Istanbul. We need to tell the world about this – today. We can already start disseminating what we know about Turkish money being transferred directly or indirectly to Hamas and about Turkish nonprofit groups – some government-run – that pour money into Jerusalem. We can also take action. We need to quote the tenets of Hamas, an organization that aspires to wipe out the Jews and the State of Israel and that Erdogan sees as an ally rather than a terrorist group.
One of Hamas’ openly declared goals is “death in the name of Allah,” “our dearest wish,” as it is described in the group’s charter. Indeed, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya noted only Monday, almost with satisfaction, that “the Palestinian people’s march has tempted the enemy to spill more blood.”
Al-Hayya’s words require an explanation. It appears that they are best clarified by Fahti Hamad, former interior minister for Hamas and who headed some branches of Hamas’ security. Hamad, who recently fell out with his colleagues in the Hamas leadership, said a few years ago that for the Palestinian people, “death has become an industry, and women excel. It has turned women, children, the elderly, and mujahedeen [“holy warriors”] into human shields. As they told the Zionist enemy: ‘We long for death like you long for life.'”
Hamas has been implementing this belief system for years. It sanctifies the culture of death and martyrdom. In Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, it set up bases and positions among the civilian population, in hospitals, schools, UNRWA facilities, mosques, and residential neighborhoods. It knowingly sent women and children to their deaths. For years, Hamas has prioritized building up its military strength over investing in its population. It elects to invest in terror tunnels and rockets and abandons the residents of Gaza to poverty, war, and hunger. On Monday, Hamas sent them to die at the border.
We weren’t the ones who spilled their blood. There is plenty of proof of that. We need to show it, repeatedly, without tiring, not only in the west but also to the Muslim and Arab world both in Israel and abroad that is being led by Erdogan’s delusions. Israel sending the Turkish consul home on Tuesday should be the first step in a reassessment of how Israel and Turkey should maintain ties. Turkey has to understand that it, too, has something to lose.