When, on October 7, the terrorist group Hamas launched an unprovoked attack on Israel, killing more than 1,300 Israeli men, women and children (and wounding thousands more), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, rather than dusting off his usual inflammatory anti-Israel rants, uncharacteristically advised both sides for restraint. That was, after Erdoğan's vow to isolate Israel internationally had brought Turkey a heavy geopolitical cost. This was Erdoğan's pragmatist-self.
Only a few days later, as always, his ideological-self took the stage.
The "final solution," Erdoğan said, unwittingly, it seems, using Hitler's term, "is the foundation of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem its capital and Israel retreating to pre-1967 borders." Why not ask Israel to withdraw to its pre-Babylonian borders?
"Our Brothers in the Gaza Strip have been heavily bombarded in the past couple of days," Erdoğan said. Really, Mr. Erdoğan, now why is that? What would your military do if terrorists bombarded Turkey's civilians with thousands of rockets?
Once again, in NATO, Turkey is the odd one out. Listen to Erdoğan, the leader of this NATO ally:
"What's Hamas' losses? What's Israel's? Hamas has the serious losses." How heartbreaking: the poor terrorists have heavy losses.
Erdoğan continues in a dramatic voice:
"There is no running water in Gaza. There is no electricity. Where are human rights? Hospitals and [mosques] are being bombed mercilessly."
Now, why is that, Mr. Erdoğan? Could Hamas possibly be hiding arsenals of weaponry in those places?
More from Erdoğan:
"Israel is behaving like an organization [a terrorist organization], not like a state. Thus, it will be treated like an organization."
"This is not a war," Erdoğan went on.
"This is massacre [committed by Israel] ... This is about premeditated murder of civilians... These are disproportionate attacks on Gaza lacking any moral basis."
Er, what about the moral basis of Hamas beheading babies then posting the videos online?
What, then, does the leader of this "NATO ally" think about U.S. involvement in the face of the tragic attack on the people of Israel?
"What will the aircraft carrier of the U.S. do near Israel, why do they come? What will the boats around it and the aircraft on it do? They will hit Gaza and places near it, and take steps for serious massacres there," Erdoğan said in a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Ankara. It appears "NATO ally" Erdoğan did not like it when the U.S. decided to move an American aircraft carrier strike group, including the USS Gerald R. Ford, closer to Lebanon, which is under the control of another Iranian terrorist organization, Hizballah, lodged on Israel's northern front.
On October 5, the Pentagon said that the U.S. military had shot down an armed Turkish drone operating near its troops in Syria. It was the first time Washington brought down the aircraft of a NATO ally. "Why does the U.S. have 23 [military] bases in Syria?" Erdoğan griped. "What business does the U.S. have in Syria? They shot down a Turkish drone. Is Turkey not a NATO ally?" It is, Mr. Erdoğan, but apparently only part-time. Is Turkey supposed to be a NATO ally only at your convenience?
"[The] U.S.," declared Erdoğan "is arming and training all terror organizations.... The U.S. is making a bloodbath in Syria and the Middle East."
Against this Islamist backdrop, there will always be people more royal than the king. Turkey's Deputy Education Minister Nazif Yılmaz tweeted that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "will die. One day they will shoot you too."
Erdoğan, finally, in what might be the laugh of the century, said he would like to play the honest broker between Israel and Hamas. Why not have Iran mediating between Israel and Hamas, or Greece mediating between Turkey and Cyprus, or Belarus mediating between Russia and Ukraine...?
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based political analyst and the Charles Wax Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.