by Gary L Bauer, Director of CUFI Action Fund. Edited by CUFI-UK team.

Turkey is a member of the NATO alliance.  It was also the first Muslim-majority nation to formally recognise Israel.  Unfortunately, Turkey has lurched toward Islamism since the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose penchant for opulence and power has some comparing him to the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.  Sadly, Turkey’s relationship with the West and Israel has suffered as a result.

Appealing to his Islamist base Monday, Erdogan called for the international community to punish Israel for alleged “massacres and cruelty.”  He also praised Palestinian “resistance” against Israel and repeated the lie that Israel is somehow threatening the Al-Aqsa mosque.

“Turkey attaches great importance to the justified resistance of the Palestinians and will not yield to Israeli attempts to change the status quo in the Al-Aqsa mosque,” the Turkish leader said. “We as Muslims should visit the Al-Aqsa mosque more often; every day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat denounced Erdogan’s slander.  He said:

“It is surprising that Erdogan, who leads a state that occupied Jerusalem for 400 years, wants to preach to us about how to manage our city.  Unlike during the Turkish occupation, Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty is a flourishing, open and free city that allows freedom of religion and worship for all. In recent years, record numbers of Muslims have visited the Temple Mount and held prayers, exercising their absolute freedom of religion under Israeli sovereignty. 

“The connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem dates back more than 3,000 years. Jerusalem is and will remain our eternal, united capital forever. . . As we celebrate 50 years of reunited Jerusalem, I invite Erdogan to visit our city and to be amazed by the reality on the ground — a reality that has changed only for the better since the Turks ruled here.”