This week, Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly. No Israeli Prime Minister has met with Erdogan since 2014, an eight-year hiatus.
The Jerusalem Post has given an in-depth analysis on this topic and we highly recommend reading this:
In 2018 Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared Israel to Nazi Germany. In 2019 Turkey’s leader bashed Israel in his speech to the United Nations.
This week the same Turkish leader met with Israel’s Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, the countries have restored relations and Ankara is meeting with Jewish organizations, putting on a kind of charm offensive.
How can a country’s leadership shift from describing Israel as similar to the Nazis, slandering the memory of the Holocaust, and then suddenly getting along with the same country? Ankara has hosted Hamas terrorists for years, given a red carpet to Hamas leaders as recently as 2020, and yet today it wants ties with Jerusalem.
It’s worth reviewing a bit of the background to examine how Turkey-Israel relations have come to this point. Is this a genuinely new era, or will Ankara quickly reverse course again? Let’s look at some of the history.
Erdogan’s history of accusations against Israel
In 2018 Erdogan said “today, the Palestinians are subjected to pressures, violence and intimidation policies no less grave than the oppression done to the Jews during WWII,” according to reports.
According to the BBC, he said that recent laws in Israel “has shown without leaving the slightest room for doubt that Israel is the world’s most Zionist, fascist, racist state…There is no difference between Hitler’s obsession with the Aryan race and Israel’s understanding that these ancient lands are meant only for Jews…The spirit of Hitler, which led the world to a great catastrophe, has found its resurgence among some of Israel’s leaders.”
Ankara has never apologized for those comments are walked them back. In New York, however, the Turkish leader met with Prime Minister Lapid. Ankara’s authoritarian leader also held a meeting with representatives of 32 Jewish organizations, according to an article in the JTA. According to the report, Erdogan was not asked about his previous antisemitic comment and comparing Israel to the Nazis.