THE BLOG

When the Shoe Is on PM Erdogan's Other Foot

A year and a half ago, when the so-called Arab Spring began and dissent came to Syria, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a defender of Syrian President Bashir Assad.

It wasn't until a refugee problem developed along their shared border, with fleeing Syrian families seeking safe passage, and hoping Turkey would offer them protection as civilian innocents, that Erdogan's relations with Assad started to go downhill.  Even at the start of the Syrian refugee influx, Erdogan was unsympathetic to their plight and wanted them to go home to live under the Assad regime, for which he made excuses.

Now, of course, Erdogan has changed his tune, turning into Assad's enemy, the enemy of tyranny itself, asserting Turkish victimhood up against Syrian aggression, with NATO on alert. This Erdogan has zero tolerance for cross border violence, and his army fires daily on Syria.

Of course, Turkey is not unique in being upset that a neighbor fired rockets or mortars into its territory. This would be true even if the aggressor was not looking to provoke, not trying to injure the citizens of the aggrieved country, but only attempting to kill and intimidate the supposed traitors who have fled their homeland.  Imagine how angry Prime Minister Erdogan would be if Syria fired its rockets intentionally at Turkish targets and actually tried to kill Turkish citizens on Turkish soil.

But "angry" wouldn't be the best way to describe Prime Minister Erdogan. Hypocrite would be the most apt word for him and those who think the same way.

As most everyone knows, Israel for many years has sustained tens of thousands of rocket attacks aimed randomly at its citizens by Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza. This same terrorist group also specializes in killing Muslims with whom it disagrees, often choosing the gruesome method of throwing opponents off tall buildings. The same group, of course, that Prime Minister Erdogan champions.  

Unlike Turkey, Israel can't go running to NATO, and it knows even its close friend, the United States, does not approve of major military action to silence the rockets that have forced Israeli families in the country's south to scurry to underground bunkers at the sound of air raid sirens.

When Israel finally acted, as any other country would, to end the shelling and protect it citizens, it was lambasted by the world, and treated as a pariah. The UN formed a commission, something it had neglected to do during the years of cross-border shelling of Israel. Everyone offered their sympathies, of course, though never to Israeli victims.

And Turkey, under the Islamist leaning AKP Party led by Prime Minister Erdogan, decided to end decades of good relations with Israel to lead the international community in the "Free Gaza" effort.

So what is Prime Minister Erdogan's position now that stray mortar rounds have flown into Turkey, tragically killing innocents?

"Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately to this abominable attack," said the Prime Minister. "Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security."

Is Turkey really in such a unique situation that the Prime Minister believes his country deserves special dispensation to respond with force when mortars overshoot their intended targets and land over the border?

Or is it Israel that he believes must be held to a separate standard for responding to an enemy that declares it wants to kill all its citizens? 

How do you say hypocrite in Turkish?  

Seni ikiyüzlü. Or, for short, Erdogan.

The writer is chairman of the American Council for World Jewry.