Although U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital drew condemnation from much of the Muslim world, one reaction stood out -- that of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"Those who think they are the owners of Jerusalem today will not even be able to find trees to hide behind tomorrow," he said, during a Human Rights Day event in Ankara on December 10.
Erdoğan was referring to a hadith (a reported saying by Islam's prophet, Mohammed) about Judgement Day:
"Abu Huraira reported Allaah's Messenger (sall Allaahua layhiwa sallam) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allaah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews."
Although U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital drew condemnation from much of the Muslim world, one reaction stood out -- that of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Photo by Elif Sogut/Getty Images)
Radical Turks echoed Erdoğan's sentiment on social media. Under the hashtag #KudüseSahipÇık ("Safeguard Jerusalem"), which quickly became a trending topic, Turkish Twitter-users expressed a seething Jew-hatred -- not hatred of Israelis, but Jews. Here are some examples:
- "I hope this will be a cause of war for us. I will spit on the blood of Jews."
- "[With each] Jew massacred, the world will get more relaxed, and say 'I have got rid of those filths'."
- "The ummah [Islamic community] is ready for an intifada. They can exterminate the Jew."
- "To declare Jerusalem the capital [of Israel] means to start a new war in the Middle East. We have no fear of war. [The question is] Where will we bury millions of Jewish bodies? To touch Jerusalem means an end to Jews."
- "The Jew is cowardly. He cannot fight. He trusts his money, and recruits soldiers. But what we need is unity and livelihood."
- "For Jerusalem to belong to Muslims, not a single Jew should be left alive in Palestinian lands. It is either victory or victory."
- "Oh Allah! Do not take my soul before you grant me the privilege to engage in jihad against Israeli Jewish dogs."
- "There is only one thing to be said about Jews: There has never been a more cowardly, dishonorable, and peasant nation like them. The victory will definitely be ours."
Some Twitter-users praised Hitler for killing Jews, while others condemned him for not doing a sufficient job. Then there are those who suggested persecuting Turkish Jews. Tagging Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, one user tweeted:
"Synagogues, the Israeli consulate and Jews... If we burn down, destroy and kill all of these things, will we be considered criminals now?"
Other Tweets in the same vein included:
- "Close all synagogues in Turkey. Either arrest or deport all Jewish citizens. Close all the water lines to Israel. Then they will croak automatically."
- "What if we shut down synagogues and churches? And open Hagia Sophia [Christian Basilica in Istanbul] to [Muslim] worship?"
- "Chain all the synagogues in Istanbul. Tolerance has limits. Jerusalem is the capital of Muslim believers."
Erdoğan's statements -- and those of Turks who share his worldview -- are further evidence that fundamentalist Muslims oppose Israel's very existence as a sovereign Jewish state. Their fury over Trump's Jerusalem declaration has nothing to do with U.S. or Israeli policies. Their fury stems from Jews existing in Israel as a powerful nation – not as dhimmis (second-class and persecuted people). Fanatic Muslims cannot get over the fact that Jews still live in, and are in charge of, supposedly their Muslim holy land.
These reactions are also the most observable examples of Islamist genocidal hatred of Jews and extreme Islamist intolerance of a non-Islamic faith's religious sensibilities and its national history.
To justify their rage, these radicals rewrite history. Their claims that Jerusalem is a Muslim holy city, for example, are false. While Jerusalem is mentioned 850 times in the Old Testament, it is not mentioned once in the Koran. Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel some 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. It only became a focus of Muslim agitation in 1980, when Israel adopted a Basic Law -- equivalent to a constitutional provision -- declaring united Jerusalem as its capital.
Muslims never declared Jerusalem their capital, even when they controlled the area later called "Palestine," after their invasion in the seventh century. Instead, in the beginning of the eighth century, they built the city of Ramla and named it their local capital. Jordan also did not declare Jerusalem a Muslim capital when it controlled the city from 1948 to 1967. Moreover, during those 19 years, the only Arab leader who even visited Jerusalem was King Abdullah I of Jordan -- who was assassinated there in 1951 by an Arab nationalist associated with the former mufti of the city.
It is true that Al-Aqsa Mosque is located in Jerusalem; the first reference to the mosque appeared in the 12th century. Yet, the common perception that the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa is situated, is the "third-holiest site in Islam" is based on a rhetorical ploy: Mecca is Islam's holiest place; Medina is its second-holiest. For Jews, Jerusalem is the holiest city and the Temple Mount the holiest site; Judaism's second-holiest site is the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which Muslims usurped when they conquered the city in the 7th century and re-named it the Ibrahimi Mosque. If Muslims are entitled to have control over the city that hosts their so-called "third-holiest site," why do they oppose Jewish control over the city that contains Judaism's first- and second-holiest sites?
Many Muslims also often purposely muddy that Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel does not compromise the religious freedom of Muslims and Christians. In fact, the city has never in its history been as open to pilgrims from all religions as it has been under Israeli rule. By contrast, during the 19 years when the Old City and its holy sites were under Jordanian occupation, Jews -- regardless of the origin of their passports -- were prohibited to visit and pray there. Still today, Jews visiting the Temple Mount are prohibited from praying there.
Since the advent of Islam, Muslim regimes have destroyed -- or converted into mosques -- synagogues, churches, Buddhist and Hindu temples, and other non-Muslim places of worship. Accusing Israel of engaging in such behavior is both a projection and a propaganda device.
The false narrative about Jerusalem is part of what Moshe Sharon, Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, calls the "Islamization of History." The basic attitude, he says,
"is that ... all major figures of history basically are Muslim -- from Adam down to our own time. So, if the Jews or Christians are demanding something and basing it on the fact that there was a king called Solomon or a king called David, or a prophet called Moses or Jesus, they say something which is not true or, in fact, they don't know that all these figures were basically Muslim figures."
He further explains:
"Anywhere which was connected with these people or with these prophets who were all Muslims becomes a Muslim territory. And therefore, when Islam was not in ...the Middle East or other parts outside of the Middle East which are now Muslim... any place like this had to be freed, not to be conquered. ... Islam appeared in history in the time of Mohammed -- or reappeared in history from their point of view -- as a liberator..."
...presumably of an Islamic religion that existed since forever and was distorted by religions which came along later: Judaism and Christianity.
That is why the struggle of Israel is also the struggle of the West against sharia-imposed historic revisionism and the slavery of dhimmitude, the second-class, "tolerated" status assigned by Islamists to Jews and other non-Muslims. It is a struggle for freedom in which the Jewish people take back their history and freedom from Islamist and other dictators and preserve them in their own ancient homeland.
The Islamist understanding of history and geography, however, is completely different from scientific and historical facts.
According to Islamists, all prominent figures beginning from Adam and Eve were Muslim, therefore all the lands where they lived were Muslim lands. Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Yazidism, and others are not belief systems which could also be respected. The believers of all those religions are occupiers in Muslim lands. They are not natives or honorable residents. They are not even communities whose rights and religious liberty should be respected as much as that of Muslims. They have, in fact, according to this view, abandoned the only true religion; they have therefore been cursed and will be punished by Allah unless they convert to Islam. If they are allowed to live despite that, it is all because of the "mercy" of Islamists -- but they are always to remain inferior to Muslims.
This is what Islamists assert and have acted on in the lands they rule. But science -- including real history, archeology, and objective theological studies, among others -- would disagree with the Islamists' revisionist understanding of history.
It is natural that a religion claims that it is the only true one. But most do so by still recognizing and respecting other faiths and their histories. What is destructive and intolerant is if one religion denies the authenticity of other religions and dehumanizes and demonizes their believers. This distorted and misleading understanding of world history has also helped to create extremely oppressive and violent Muslim regimes that have never treated non-Muslims as equals.
An ideology that asserts that all of human history is actually its own history, and other faiths are just inventions created by frauds that led their believers astray, and that misled people who will burn in hell forever because they do not believe in the only eternal, true, and perfect religion, is not fit to create a tolerant culture that is respectful to, and accepting of, other faiths. That is why this denialist, supremacist, and totalitarian ideology has not been able to promote religious, cultural, or intellectual diversity at any time in history in the lands that it took over.
This denialist view on history, which recognizes nothing but Islam, is what mainly creates the enormous differences in understanding between the Islamists who falsely claim ownership of Jerusalem and the Jews of Israel who rebuilt their homeland and wish to live there in dignity.
The Islamists attempt falsely to Islamize history, by combining it with the hate-filled teachings in Islamic scripture openly claiming that Jews and other non-Muslims are "cursed by Allah" and "shall be killed off." This revisionist history is how and why fundamentalists such as Erdoğan -- and the Turkish Twitter-users who follow his lead -- have no compunction about disseminating genocidal vitriol.
Their lies need to be exposed for what they are: anti-Semitism and falsehoods disguised as legitimate criticism of U.S. and Israeli policy.
Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist born and raised a Muslim, is currently based in Washington D.C.