Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (left with Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, right with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal) finds his affection for the Palestinian cause is unrequited.
Although it came as no surprise, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in his weekly parliamentary group speech last December, spoke like a Palestinian politician, not a Turkish one:
The most oppressed people of the 20th and 21st centuries is the Palestinian people ... Our support will continue until Jerusalem becomes the capital of independent Palestine ... No one should doubt our devotion to the Palestinian cause ... We won't forget Palestine, Gaza, Jerusalem, not even in our dreams ... We do politics for this holy way.
He then narrated an anecdote:
We were in the front rows when three months ago the Palestinian flag was hoisted at the United Nations. In November 2012, I was the only representative, as [then] foreign minister, from the Islamic world when Palestine was given non-member status at the United Nations general assembly. I sat with [Palestinian leader] Mahmoud Abbas when the Palestinian flag was hoisted recently and we hugged ... That's why I felt honored on behalf of my nation to witness the hoisting of the Palestinian flag at the United Nations. Inshallah [God willing] that flag will one day be waved in Jerusalem ... Whatever is wrong for Palestine is wrong for us too.
What generous Turkish affection for the Palestinian flag and leader! But both history and present times would forcefully remind one that the Turks' love affair for the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, is quite unrequited.
First, the flag. The colors of the Palestinian flag (red, white, green and black) are pan-Arab colors. The Palestinian flag is almost identical to that of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. It is also very similar to the flags of Jordan and Western Sahara. Before being the Palestinian flag, it was the flag of the short-lived Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan. All of these flags draw their inspiration from the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkey (1916-1918).
In short, the flag the Turkish prime minister proudly witnessed while being hoisted at the UN is an inspiration of the flag used by the Arab Palestinian nationalists in the first half of the 20th century, which was the flag of the 1916 Arab Revolt against Davutoglu's beloved Ottoman Empire. The Arabs, including Palestinians, joined the Allies to fight the Turks during the war.
Similarly, Davutoglu's emotional encounters with Mahmoud Abbas do not sound as if they are being shared by the Palestinian leadership. Abbas's Christmas message, which went unnoticed in Turkey, contained references to the Armenian genocide (still largely a taboo topic in Turkey) that would have caused a small political earthquake in Turkey, along with fits of anger and threats, had they been spoken by an Israeli or European politician. Displaying the usual hypocrisy, Turkish leaders preferred not to hear what Abbas said:
We, Palestinians, have gone through similar experiences as the Armenians; both of us have been repressed, terrorized and banished. As the Armenian people emigrated from their country to ours and then to another place, we too are experiencing the same struggle; we emigrated in 1948 and the refugees in Syria are migrating to the sea, into exile and to places only God knows about.
In his speech, Abbas did not forget to "convey our best wishes to our beloved Armenian brothers in Palestine, in Armenia and in the entire world," and invited Armenian President Serzh Sarghsyan "to visit Palestine and we hope he will accept the invitation."
That was "From Palestine with Love" -- to Turkey. Without caring much about whether the Palestinians love the Turks, the Turks keep on loving to love the Palestinians. Political Islam has its many prerequisites. If one of them is unconditionally to hate Israel and the Jews; the other is an unconditional devotion to the "Palestinian cause." Turkey's leaders successfully fulfill both prerequisites.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist for the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.