Once again, half the world is fighting alongside the Hamas jihadists and their Jewish nemesis. First, some facts:
1. In June, when there were no bombs and rockets travelling between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, three Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, were kidnapped. Eighteen days later their bodies were found.
2. The kidnapping was a cause for celebrations in Gaza where crowds cheered. Palestine's experimental unity government handed out sweets in celebration. Palestinian youths brandished a new salute, raising three fingers and showing joy at the kidnapping. Hamas' political leader, Khaled Mashaal, also Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ideological next of kin, said: "We congratulate the kidnappers."
3. After the killing of the Israeli teenagers, a young Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, disappeared, and was later found to have been brutally murdered. Israel acted quickly and arrested six radical Jews as perpetrators, three of whom confessed to their crime. Israel labelled the murderers as murderers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Khdeir's father to offer him condolences. Strong expressions of condemnation were heard across the political spectrum, including from Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali, one of the murdered Israeli teenagers. Israelis had woken up to a new world in which Jews, too, could act as if they were terrorists. Most Israelis agreed that the murderers should get the most severe punishment for their barbaric act. The father of one of the suspects said: "I am ashamed of him."
4. Then came the usual war. Hamas, which does not hide that it stores, stockpiles and launches rockets from the midst of Palestinian civilian concentrations, and uses Gazans, often elderly women or children, as human shields, fired (as of July 14) over 500 rockets into Israel, where a majority of the population is within range of the missiles. Israeli air defenses successfully intercepted most of the enemy rockets, and the Israeli Defense Forces counter-attacked by bombing what it said were the homes of terrorists or homes where enemy weapons were hidden. Despite warnings for the evacuation of these declared targets, Hamas instead keeps on locating civilians whom its ideology believes would be martyrs when killed. More than 150 martyrs so far.
5. Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said: "All Israelis are legitimate targets." What would the Palestinian death toll be if Mr. Netanyahu's spokesman declared all Palestinians as legitimate targets? But no, the cliché and boring underdog-nation romanticism tells us Israel should not respond when under rocket attack because it is capable of intercepting the rockets.
But would, for instance, Erdoğan, who thinks a 15-year-old boy is a terrorist and should be shot by a gas canister, tolerate over 500 rockets over Turkish skies? Would he advise restraint if any group, party or country declared that all Turks are legitimate targets? Would he ignore it if any group, party or country pledged to fight down right to the last Turk?
But he has finally exhibited some honesty and admitted that: "We are never neutral when it comes to the Palestinian cause." Thank you, Prime Minister, for confirming this columnist when he wrote in 2009 that Turks as honest brokers between Arabs and Israelis sounded much like Greeks as honest brokers between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
All the same, Mr. Erdoğan's rhetoric was not equally honest when he said, "There were no rockets fired into Israeli territory because there were no Israeli deaths." Was Mr. Erdoğan denying Hamas, who says it happily fires scores of rockets? That there are fewer Israeli casualties does not mean Hamas does not want to kill; it just means Hamas, for the moment, cannot kill
(to be continued)
Burak Bekdīl, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily News and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article was originally published in slightly different for form on July 16 in the Hürriyet Daily News.