THERE is a reason why Turkey is slowly assuming the leadership of the Muslim world. While Arab leaders' criticism of Israel's murderous Gaza rampage was muted, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan did not mince his words. Volunteering to return the 2004 American Jewish Congress's award, Erdogan said: “If you support this cruelty, this genocide, this Hitler-like fascism and child murderer regime, take your award back.”
Erdogan added: “What is the difference between Israeli actions and those of the Nazis and Hitler? How can you explain what the Israeli state has been doing in Gaza, Palestine, if not as genocide? This is racism. This is fascism. This is keeping Hitler's spirit alive. Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism…Terrorist state Israel has attacked Gaza once again, hitting innocent children who were playing on a beach…Just like Hitler, who sought to establish a race free of all faults, Israel is chasing after the same target. 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.”
When Netanyahu criticised Erdogan's “anti-Semitic” comments, Erdogan exploded! Referring to the sanctuary the 15th century Ottoman Empire offered the Jews when Spain expelled them, Erdogan reminded Israel: “Who stood up for Jews at a time when they were expelled from their home countries? It was our ancestors, it was the Ottomans. Aren't you embarrassed? How immoral you are.... It is us who protects the Jews on our soil and lets them live safely.” Israel is afraid of Turkey; the only Muslim nation that can fight Israel.
In contrast, according to The New York Times, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates encouraged Israel to destroy Hamas. The paper cited those countries' fear of Hamas's “political Islam,” adding that those leaders dislike Hamas more than Netanyahu or Israel. On August 20, 2013, Erdogan accused Israel of fomenting the July 3, 2013 military coup that ousted popularly elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are ideological soul mates. Formed in the 1980s, Hamas is a popular resistance movement against Israeli colonisation of Palestine. Unelected Arab heads are afraid of mass movements. Ever since the coup, through the election of new Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in June, 2014, Egyptian government has been hostile to Hamas. They destroyed the tunnels from Gaza to Egypt -- Gaza's lifeline to the world -- through which food, medicine and goods were smuggled into Gaza, eluding Israeli blockade. The failed first Egypt-sponsored ceasefire proposal satisfied all of Israel's demands, including cessation of Hamas' rocket firing, but none of Hamas's demands, such as lifting of the Israeli siege of Gaza.
Egypt has mutated from a credible intermediary to a protagonist with interests inimical to Hamas's. That is why Hamas has turned to friendly Turkey and Qatar. Since the US labels Hamas “a terrorist organisation” and refuses to engage with it, and Egypt is hostile to Hamas, the US Secretary of State John Kerry met with representatives of Turkey and Qatar last week in Paris. Israelis went ballistic! Kerry was blasted by the Israeli media and ministers as a traitor consorting with Israel's enemies!
The irony is, Israel exists only because of 100% American support. Apparently, that is not enough. Israel gets upset when America deviates even a little from Israeli talking points; as though America cannot have an opinion that has not been approved by Israel. A rightwing Israeli Rabbi recently proclaimed: “The gentiles exist to serve the Jews!”
Israel uses US Congress to keep the president in line. After funding Israel's $775 million “Iron Dome,” the Congress recently appropriated additional $225 million to bolster it.
When Israel complained on July 20 that it had nearly exhausted its ammunitions, just as it had done during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the US replenished Israel's weapon stockpile worth another billion dollars. To the rest of the world, America's sending Israel arms that Israel uses to murder Palestinian civilians in Gaza, makes America complicit in Israeli genocide of the Palestinians. By blindly following Israel, America risks losing its own soul.
The conflict has racial overtones, as Erdogan suggested. To garner support and sympathy from the Americans, Israelis, dominated by fair-skinned European (Ashkenazi) Jews, send the subliminal message that they are a white race fighting the olive-skinned Arabs. The truth is, both Arabs and Israelis are Semites.
Israel accuses Hamas of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. This is an all-encompassing excuse for the IDF's role in civilian deaths. It's a self-absolving ruse. It preemptively removes all blame from the trigger-puller, the Israeli government. Gaza is tiny; there is no place to escape. Israel knows that artillery shelling and naval bombardments are inaccurate, guaranteed to cause mass civilian deaths in densely populated Gaza.
Hamas does not recognise Israel's right to exist. But, the Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas did recognise, and have been cooperating with, Israel for twenty years. In exchange, they got more Jewish settlements, draconian anti-Palestinian laws, and partition of Al Aqsa mosque compound into Jewish and Muslim sections! The illegal Jewish settlers live under civilian rule, while native Palestinians live under military rule in the West Bank.
Israel detests resistance to its occupation and creeping annexation; Hamas refuses to comply. Israel acts unilaterally, withdrawing from Gaza in 2005 unilaterally, and declaring unilateral ceasefires, as though negotiating with the Palestinians is beneath their dignity. Demonstrating that the weak, too, has power, now that ragtag Hamas militia has given mighty Israel a bloody nose, Palestinian Authority should be emboldened. If Israel refuses to negotiate for a two-state solution, then the Palestinians should demand a one-state solution.
Although there have been protests in Western Europe against Israeli genocide, most governments, notably the UK, the founder of Israel, remain staunchly pro-Israeli. On the contrary, all South American nations have condemned Israel's atrocities in Gaza, and many have recalled their ambassadors from Tel Aviv. Fifty thousand mostly young Americans demonstrated against Israeli genocide in Gaza in front of the White House on August 2. American media ignored it!
The West was quick to fall for yet another Netanyahu lie. He claimed that Hamas had abducted an Israeli soldier, the US immediately accused Hamas of “barbaric” breach of ceasefire, and President Obama demanded the soldier's immediate release (why Hamas would listen to Israel's chief patron is another question). The word “barbaric” is used liberally to denounce Hamas, but never used for Israeli atrocities. Hamas denied capturing the soldier, saying he probably died in combat. Later, Israel told the world that the soldier indeed died in combat!
Thus far, Israel has killed 1,900 Gazans; over 80% are civilians. Israel has lost three civilians. So the current ratio is, 1 Israeli civilian dead for 500 Gaza civilian dead. Israel ignores world opinion because it knows that world opinion does not have weapons. Israel and America are unchallenged super powers. Who gives two hoots about what people in Dhaka or Dakar think! They lack military power. Morality can take a hike, for Israel, might makes right.
The writer is a Rhodes Scholar.