Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Turks are murderers (but I am not anti-Turkish)

The thundering Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a near thing for Israeli President Shimon Peres. I do not want to think about the possible consequences if the two had met privately in a room instead of a panel discussion venue. If I were an Israeli politician I would never meet with Mr Erdoğan in person without a few bodyguards around.

Mr Erdoğan may have pocketed an extra 5-10 percent of the vote for the municipal elections in March. But his rhetoric on the Arab-Israeli conflict is becoming more and more inflammatory and damaging for a number of reasons. First, Mr Erdoğan, now the darling of the Palestinians, Syrians and Iranians, has provoked radicals in the region as he showed "even Israel is touchable." Hence the cheers and joy in Gaza, Tehran and Damascus.

Second, Mr Erdoğan’s outburst in Davos further unmasked the public secret that this is a war of religions, not just a political conflict. Mr Erdoğan has claimed that his solidarity with the Palestinians was merely a humane act and had nothing to do with anti-Semitism. He also said that his reaction was to the moderator than to Mr Peres. Is that so?

We can always ignore the fact that Mr Erdoğan "condemned the audience which applauded Mr Peres" and said that the applause was a crime against humanity. But take just one line Mr Erdoğan chose to address to Mr Peres: "When it comes to killing, you know it too well!" NowÉ Who is the "you" in that sentence? Mr Peres personally? A man decorated with the Nobel Peace Prize? The Israelis? The Jews? Or David Ignatius, the moderator?

If Mr Erdoğan’s reaction was directed, as he claimed, to the moderator then he must have meant that "when it comes to killing, Mr Ignatius knows it too well." My friend’s six-year-old son was not convinced. "He meant the Jews!" he enlightened us.

Mr Erdoğan’s rhetoric is no different than someone saying that "Turks are murderers (or genocide committers) but he is not anti-Turkish." There is more evidence that Mr Erdoğan tells us one thing and thinks another.

If, as he claimed, his Davos tirade was merely a humane act he should then explain why did he not act in the same way when Muslim Chechens killed hundreds of Christian school children in Beslan five years ago. Or why did he visit Khartoum in 2006 and declare that no genocide had been committed in Darfur, or why was Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir has twice been cordially received in Ankara?

Why, really, was Mr Erdoğan all too silent and did not "merely humanely act" when the Iraqi death toll counter was reaching six-digit figures? First, in Iraq the "target" would be America and too big for him to bite. Second, there were no elections in sight at the time of "daily tragic news from Iraq." And third, the "Palestinian cause" has always been something different than any other "cause" for the ideology which in the 1970s indoctrinated Mr Erdoğan and his Islamist comrades. For everyone who belonged to Islamic militancy of the 1970s Palestine is a symbol for an eventual victory of Islam.

It was not a coincidence that demonstrators in Gaza at the weekend were carrying Palestinian and Turkish flags (and burning Israeli flags). It was not a coincidence that the crowds who gathered in Istanbul to welcome the "hero of Davos" were chanting "Death to Israel," or "We’re ready to die." Nor was it a coincidence that a stadium full of football fans shouted "Down with Israel" after the only Jewish player in Turkey had scored a goal. Poor chap had publicly condemned the Israeli incursion into Gaza but could not escape the anti-Semitic ire now visible all around Turkey. But there is more.

At the Gaza demonstrations a Turk spoke to the crowds along with his Palestinian comrades. The man, Bülent Yıldırım, is the head of an Islamic, pro-AKP charity organization, IHH in its Turkish acronym. Now listen to what Mr Yıldırım had to tell the crowds: "I have brought you greetings from (the Ottoman Sultan) AbdulhamitÉ(long applause)É Last night (when Mr Erdoğan was polite enough not to give Mr Peres a sinking python) everything was reversed in favour of Islam!" Then Mr Yıldırım wished the Palestinians all the best in their Holy War.

With all this publicly happening we are expected to believe that religion is nowhere in this conflict. Anyone can, but I am not going to subscribe to the naivety that not even my friend’s six-year-old kid believes.