Turkey’s Radicalism Poses Opportunities for Israel

A pragmatic policy could help secure Israel’s position in the region

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Turkish soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint as Syrian refugees from Kobani arrive at the Turkey-Syria border crossing of Mursitpinar near Suruc, Turkey, late Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.
Turkish soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint as Syrian refugees from Kobani arrive at the Turkey-Syria border crossing of Mursitpinar near Suruc, Turkey, late Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. Credit: AP

A few hundred meters from the border of a NATO member country, a murderous messianic movement is abusing hundreds of thousands of Kurds. Some 300,000 have been forced to flee their homes, many have been killed, and the threat of death is hovering over thousands more.

And what is being done from the NATO border to stop these genocidal fighters operating only a few hundred meters away?


Tanks are sitting along the border and doing nothing. Even worse, Turkey doesn’t need to intervene militarily. It would be enough if it didn’t prevent the Kurdish fighters from crossing the border or prevent weapons from NATO reaching those fighting against Islamic State. But not only are the Turks keeping food from reaching the besieged Kurds, they are bombing Kurdish targets.

The truth is even worse: Turkey is helping Islamic State. It allows fighters and equipment to cross over to the barbarians and enables Islamic State to sell oil via Turkey. In practice, Turkey has turned into the radical factor in the region. Maybe even more dangerous than Iran.

For a good reason, during the recent war in Gaza, Islamic Jihad, which is directed from Iran, wanted a cease-fire, while Turkey pressured Hamas to continue fighting. The combination of imperial dreams with radical Islam has fueled Turkish extremism.

And all this alongside the desire to continue to conquer the Kurds, to weaken Syria and Iraq, to take control of the oil in northern Syria and Kurdish Iraq, and to dominantly rule in the region. Sunni extremists in the region see Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the Muslim caliph for a very good reason.

But wars also create opportunities for pragmatic visionaries. David Ben-Gurion knew how to exploit the horror of the Holocaust for the independence of Israel. And many nation-states arose after the exposure to the racist abuses of the Second World War. Zionism knew how to exploit the First World War to receive the Balfour Declaration, and the Bolsheviks for the communist revolution. And the stable peace with Egypt was created as a result of the death during the Yom Kippur War.

It is hard to exaggerate the range of possibilities available now to a moderate Israeli leadership with a vision for securing the country’s position within the region. And this doesn’t mean only exposing the Turkish extremism.

The drama in the region is between racist-messianic forces that are interested in conquest and in the lack of borders and the pragmatic-nation states seeking stability and prosperity. A moderate Israel could be a central factor in the redesign of the borders of the Middle East along with the collapse of colonial anti-borders. Understanding the danger of the religious zealots allows a graduated regional process for building new and secure borders.

The propaganda of the right has implanted a false lesson in many Israelis: “Evacuation brings rockets.” The truth is the exact opposite: The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan — including a full withdrawal and the evacuation of settlements — have proved a stabilizing factor. They have survived assassinations of leaders and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The problem is that at this historic moment the Jewish Brotherhood has taken control of Israel. It is now that the government in Israel has placed itself on the wrong side of history. On the messianic, racist, occupying side; instead of the pragmatic side that supports self-determination.

Israel was missing not only from the international conference on reconstructing Gaza. In contrast to Zionism, which knew how to exploit the San Remo Conference after the First World War and the United Nations after the Second World War, Israel is ignoring the opportunities.

Instead of being the anti-Turkey, Israel is becoming another Turkey. Instead of supporting Kurdish and Palestinian independence, Israel has turned into the enemy of the values on which it was founded. Instead of sending the Air Force to stop Islamic State, the regime has entangled the Air Force in missions of the occupation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is regularly seen in Israel as an economic hazard — because of his policy of economic rifts, which strangle the citizens and expel the young people overseas — but as a strategic stabilizer. The truth is quite different. As the welfare state is destroyed, Netanyahu is destroying a historic opportunity to guarantee Israel’s future in the region. More than ever, we need a different leadership. It is possible even in the present Knesset.

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