The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, knows very well that when he described Zionism before the UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum held in Vienna late last February as being "a crime against humanity", he opened the door for much Zionist, American and European criticism.
The office of the Israeli Prime Minister strongly condemned this and Netanyahu himself considered the Turkish PM's announcement to be "unjust while we thought that such dark and libellous comments were a thing of the past." Furthermore, supporters of the Zionist movement worldwide raced to make statements condemning Erdogan, starting with the Head of Conference of European Rabbis, which represents about 1.7 million Jewish people and 700 religious leaders, and ending with the new U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, who considered it "unacceptable by the U.S and reprehensible." Statements were also made by the White House spokesperson, Tommy Vietor, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, who described Erdogan's statement as "hurtful and divisive!"
Historically, and before we delve into the current tensions between Turkey under the leadership of the Justice and Development Party and particularly under the leadership of the current PM, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israel as an entity, and Zionism as the supporting organization of this entity, it is important to remind you that the UN, currently led by Ban Ki-Moon, had made a historical resolution on November 10, 1975, declaring "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."
However, about 15 years after that resolution was issued, the UN issued a new resolution cancelling it and offered an apology to Israel. This was after many of the countries had been affected by the Zionist Lobby, especially in the wake of the Madrid Conference of 1991.
It is perhaps also helpful to mention that there is a bone between Turkey, the country that was the centre of the Islamic Caliphate for a long time, and Zionism as an organization and movement that tried during that period to obtain the right to immigrate from all over the world to Palestine. However, they were unsuccessful despite the proposals they put forward or their need at certain times. Moreover, the Zionist movement, in the guise of its leaders, helped the West overthrow the Ottoman Empire in WWI, which enabled it to obtain the Balfour Declaration, among other things, leading to Palestine becoming their homeland.
Therefore, we cannot consider the deterioration in relations between Israel and Turkey which followed the 2008-9 Gaza War, and which climaxed in 2010 with the Mavi Marmara incident, to be the core of the conflict. This is despite the fact that it provided an important front for the deterioration and avoided conflict between the countries appearing to be ideological. On the contrary, it was allowed to remain within the context of legal and diplomatic dealings between the countries.
The history of relations between the Turkish Justice and Development Party and Israel was not tainted with aggression or incitement, instead, the relationship leaned more towards positivity and friendliness until the party took the reins of power in Ankara. On this date specifically, the relations changed between the two sides and affected the relations between the two countries. The Justice and Development Party gained its leadership through its victory in the parliamentary elections in 2002 with concepts and visions for Turkey's next role in the region, and their desire to re-establish their status on a regional and global level.
Therefore, the party's leader and members of the Turkish parliament sought to limit the influence of the military and bureaucratic forces that dominated the will of decision -making in Turkey. It was successful in this, as the decision-making process and the follow-up of its execution became the job of the elected Turkish government, i.e. the members of the Justice and Development party.
Therefore, Turkey's and Erdogan's vision on the matter of Israel's disregard of Palestinian rights, its violation of them and abuse of power towards civilians in the 2008-9 war on Gaza was a true dedication to a fact that the Israelis learned well: Israel needed Turkey more than Turkey needed it. However, because Israel is consistently arrogant and disregards international and humanitarian laws and norms, it took the action that it did during the "Mavi Marmara" incident and killed 9 Turkish citizens in 2010. This contributed to enhancing Erdogan's trends, making Turkey a great country in the region and conveying it status in a new light that suited and preserved this trend. The key to achieving this almost certainly lay in Turkey returning to its regional surroundings (Arab and Islamic), thus building a new Middle East led by Ankara.
Erdogan's ambition, which Zionist media outlets call "the new Ottoman empire" has and still provokes Zionist fear of Turkey being reinstated to a status that suits its history and ancient Islamic culture. Moreover, they fear Turley's control of the oil and natural gas fields discovered east of the Mediterranean Sea, which caused conflict between Ankara and Tel Aviv. The "new Ottoman empire" that the Zionists see through Erdogan's trends, has used new methods to restore the old regional status. Such methods are demonstrated in the economy, market and active regional relations as well as carefully studied support of Arab causes that can fulfil Turkey's hopes to stop Iranian expansion in the region.
Based on the historical experiences of the world, particularly in the Middle East, most of those who are on the receiving end of the Zionist movement's hostility are the leaders of countries that stand in the way of their programs and plans. Therefore, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is clearly feeling the Zionist movement's move to take Turkey, and itself, back to the time before the red line in conflicts between the two sides. Perhaps it is obvious in the world of politics that Turkey and Israel are not ready to sever the ties between them due to strategic and economic interests, and the tension between them is something that happens between all countries worldwide – going from diplomatic bloom to sourness and insults.
However, it is important to keep in mind that infringing upon the Zionist movement is a red line, and labelling it what it was labelled by the UN in 1975, "a form of racism and racist discrimination" is unacceptable and cannot be ignored. Therefore, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a hard mission to face and must manage future matters that Western countries, with the incitement of the Zionists, will provoke with utmost care. This requires him to return to his main nurse: the Turkish people who crave to revive the part of them that has been destroyed by the will of Zionism for decades.
*The author is an Iraqi academic. This article is a translation from eh Arabic which first appeared on al Jazeera net on 6 March 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.