Israel should prepare for ‘Erdoğan unhinged’, columnist says

With Turkey and Egypt possibly on the verge of war in Libya, an expected Israeli move to annex settlements on occupied Palestinian territory on July 1 is likely to make Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “unhinged”, columnist Herb Keinon wrote in the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. 

Keinon said that, as Turkey and Egypt back opposing sides in the Libyan civil war, “an Israeli annexation move is likely to cause Erdoğan to spit hellfire”.

“Why? Because the two Muslim countries will be battling for public opinion in the Arab and Muslim world, and if there is one thing Erdoğan has perfected in his 17-year-reign in Turkey, it is to use anti-Israel and anti-Semitic positions and rhetoric to bolster his stature in both those worlds,” Keinon said. 

He said to “get ready for an Erdoğan on Israel unhinged and ugly”.

Erdoğan is likely to employ “fiery anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric as the champion of the Palestinians” and to portray Egypt as Israel’s lackey over the countries’ peace treaty and close security relationship to “gain points in the Arab world even as he is faces-off militarily – either directly or by proxy – against the Arab world’s most populous and important nation,” Keinon said.

Keinon said that Erdoğan has frequently criticised Israel and has used anti-Semitic language: in 2011, he accused “the Israeli people of genocide”; in 2014, Erdoğan compared Israel’s assault on Gaza to Hitler, saying: “They kill women so that they will not give birth to Palestinians; they kill babies so that they won’t grow up; they kill men so they can’t defend their country... They will drown in the blood they shed.” 

In 2015, Erdoğan said “Jewish capital” was behind the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers, which had written negative editorials about him.

Keinon said these kinds of comments did not detract from Erdoğan's standing either at home or in the Muslim world, and may have even enhanced it. Keinon said it is inevitable that Erdoğan will slam Israel for its annexation of settlements, which he neglected to say are considered illegal under international law. 

“Because if there is one thing Erdoğan has learned, it is that one way to gain popularity in the Arab world – popularity he will need if battling Egypt – is to bash Israel and the Jews without restraint,” he said.