How determined is Turkey to repudiate its decades-long alliance with Israel? Today’s decision by the Turks to reportedly refuse assistance from Israel is a stunning indication of how far the Islamist government in Ankara is willing to go to make a point.
More than 1,000 persons are feared dead in the aftermath of a quake that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. With workers battling to save those trapped in collapsed buildings in towns and cities near the Iranian border, it’s more than likely that Israel’s experienced rescue teams — which participated in previous earthquake relief efforts in Turkey — would be of value to the effort. But according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told the Israelis they are not wanted. Erdoğan would apparently prefer to see his compatriots die rather than to allow Jews to help them.
A Reuters report on Turkey’s refusal recalled Israel’s record of assistance to its former ally:
In 1999, an Israeli military rescue team pulled a 10-year-old Israeli girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Cirarcik in northwest Turkey, where her family was on holiday. She had been trapped for nearly 100 hours. The team spent a week in Turkey, rescuing 12 people and recovering 140 bodies. Israel also set up a field hospital in the region, where two large quakes that year killed more than 20,000 people, treating more than 1,000 victims.
Erdoğan’s decision to embrace Hamas terrorists and discard the Israeli alliance appears to be part of a push for Turkey to reclaim the position it claimed during the Ottoman era as the leader of the Islamist world. It’s far from clear that most Arabs have any interest in being led by the Turks, but hostility toward Israel is an integral element in this campaign. Whether Turkey’s people prefer to see their compatriots die rather than be rescued by Jews is also questionable.
Israel’s government did the right thing by offering aid despite Turkey’s atrocious behavior toward the Jewish state in recent years. By repudiating even humanitarian assistance from Israel, Ankara has demonstrated the depth of its malevolence. While the United States should also do what it can to help the Turks, Erdoğan has given the Obama administration one more reason to reassess its heretofore-supine stance toward his country. A government that would rather see its people perish than acknowledge assistance from Israel has lost any moral legitimacy.