US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has unveiled multiple hypocrisies that sadly capture the minds of Islamist leaders and their willing choruses of jihadists.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey, not surprisingly, champions the global Islamist war on Trump's move. In a latest show of "solidarity with the Palestinian cause," Turkey spearheaded efforts at a summit of Islamic nations in Istanbul to declare "eastern Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine under occupation".
Erdogan's argument is too weak and unconvincing from the beginning. He has simply chosen to attack Israel although what has newly entered the political equation on Jerusalem was a sovereign U.S. pronouncement. The pragmatist in Erdogan wanted to ignore that simply because the U.S. is too big to bite for him.
Erdogan said of Jerusalem: "Al-Quds [Jerusalem] has been viewed as the prayer place of Muslims and Christians and, partially ... as if it is the prayer place of Jews". Partially? It is elementary history that Jerusalem's pre-Islamic period of 3300-1000 BCE appeared in the book of Genesis -- the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- when Erdogan's ancestors were probably hunters in the steppe of Central Asia. The years 1000-732 BCE marked the period of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Simply put, Jerusalem's Judaic history dates back to thousands of years before the birth of Islam. By rejecting Jerusalem's Judaic history, in fact, Erdogan is ironically denying that his holy book, the Quran, recognizes the Land of Israel. The Quran does not say that the Israelites originated in Alaska.
Angry Islamists also argue that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital city is a move against peace in the Middle East. They do not explain, however, if there was ever peace in the modern history of the Middle East. They do not explain, either, if thousands of Muslims in the Middle East kill thousands of other Muslims every year because President Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel's capital city.
Erdogan's prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said that with its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the United States has primed a bomb in the Middle East. The bomb Yildirim mentioned has always been planted somewhere in the Middle East and detonated by Muslims mostly against other Muslims of a different sect, tribe, ethnicity or religious practice.
Since Trump's statement on the status of Jerusalem, protesting Israel and the United States has been part of daily life in Turkey's big cities. Producing and selling Palestinian flags must be one of the most lucrative businesses these days. Turkish protesters gather in crowds to chant anti-Jewish and anti-American slogans and carry placards ornamented with Arabic script that they cannot read. They are angry. They threaten to go globally violent. "If al-Quds [Jerusalem] fell, no capital in the world will be safe," a big group of protesters in Ankara warned the world.
Protesters outside the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey shout slogans against the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, on December 6, 2017. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Erdogan's argument on the international illegitimacy of Jerusalem as Israel's complete and united capital is based on a United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 478, of August 20, 1980, which "condemned in 'the strongest terms' the enactment of Israeli law proclaiming a change in status of Jerusalem and called on all states 'that have established diplomatic missions' in Jerusalem to withdraw them from the city".
Not too bad. But 478 is not the only UNSC resolution, and Erdogan chooses to ignore some others.
For instance, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a statelet on the island's north and recognized only by Turkey, is an illegal entity, as per UNSC resolutions 541 and 550. The UN General Assembly, in a host of resolutions since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern third of the island, has demanded, inter alia, respect for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, unity and the non-aligned status of the Republic of Cyprus, the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupation (Turkish) troops, the return of the refugees to their homes in safety, as well as respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots. These resolutions have been systematically violated and disregarded by Turkey. The Turkish military has remained on the island since 1974.
Once again, the realities surrounding the Islamist sentiments over Jerusalem and the entire Middle East will be different from what the big angry Turks want them to be. The United States will not retract its decision just because it angered the already angry jihadists in Turkey or elsewhere in the realm of Islam. Sooner or later, it will be business as usual. Thousands of Muslims will be killing thousands of other Muslims along sectarian and every other line and put the blame on "Yankees and Jooos." Thousands of Muslims will kill more Muslims, while blaming foreign powers for their violent divisions. Even at the start of the new "Jerusalem belongs to Islam" campaign, the Islamic world seems divided. On the eve of the Istanbul summit on December 13, Ankara criticized what it said was a "feeble Arab reaction to the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital." It said that some Arab countries were scared of angering Washington.
Ahmet Hakan, a prominent columnist from the ranks of political Islam, mentioned in a recent op-ed piece two television broadcasts: The first showed people who had gathered for a big sale at an electronic goods store in a conservative Turkish city:
"There was such a big crowd in front of the store that if you saw it, you would likely think that it was a political party meeting, and that the party was headed to power."
The second broadcast showed different groups in Turkey protesting Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.:
"In none of them was there any crowd similar in size to the one in front of the store selling discounted electronic goods... This lack of interest was not only in Turkey; a similar situation was valid everywhere in the Islamic world."
Why? Hakan explains:
"There is only one conclusion we can draw from this comparison: The 'ummah,' the Muslim religious community, is tired of the Jerusalem issue.
"Why is it tired?
"Perhaps because for many years angry groups have been chanting 'Down with Israel' and nothing happens to Israel. The angry slogans and burned flags have been no use for many decades. Most leaders of Muslim-majority countries are wary of the issue, and the Palestinian cause is used in many other countries simply as an outlet to reinforce the ruler. The Middle East is already full of bloodshed that nobody can do anything about".
Whether Jerusalem stands as Israel's united capital or not, in the Middle East it will simply be bloody business as usual.
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.