A Turkey of a prime minister

The video below shows the Davos panel last week moderated by David Ignatius on Israel’s Gaza offensive. Members of the panel included Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Israel President Shimon Peres. But for Peres, the panel is the hatefest one would expect. Meryl Yourish points out that Peres comes in at about 39:30, “but it’s well worth starting around the half hour mark or earlier to listen to the lies of Amr Moussa and the propaganda of Erdogan.” Yourish writes:

Peres speaks from the heart, and from experience. He tried to negotiate peace with the Palestinians decades ago and was reviled for it. Now, he defends his nation against the trumped-up charges of the world that ignores the thousands of rockets. Listen carefully to Peres’ stats: He points out that over a thousand Israelis have been killed by terror in the last eight years, a story that the world ignores when they play up recent Palestinian casualties and play down recent Israeli deaths–because the security fence stopped Hamas’ ability to blow up Israelis in restaurants, buses, and shopping centers.

Yourish also credits Peres for quoting the Hamas charter. Peres cites the charter’s imprecation of death to the Jews in Article 7. This seems to set Erdogan off. Erdogan demands time to respond to Peres. Before walking off the stage vowing never to return to Davos, Erodgan cites the Sixth Commandment and essentially calls Peres a murderer. Yourish correctly notes that it is worth the time to watch and learn.

One might think from Erdogan’s citation of the Sixth Commandment with a pacifist twist that he himself is averse to the use of force in the national interest. Yet Erdogan has freely launched military strikes that have killed civilians in Iraq. Commenting after Turkey’s air raid on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq in December 2007, Erodgan sounded like an Israeli prime minister: “This operation, which was carried out under night conditions, was a success. Our struggle [against the PKK] will continue inside and outside Turkey with the same determination.”

In short, Erdogan’s citation of the Sixth Commandment to Peres must have had some meaning other than that the incidental death of civilians in a defensive military operation is murder. I think it has to do with the applicability of different standards to Muslims and Jews, with a dollop of hate (noted by Charles Johnson) tossed in for good measure, but check it out for yourself.

UPDATE: David Harris writes an open letter to Prime Minister Erdogan.

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